Country star Willie Nelson and family announced the death of his 91-year-old sister, Bobbie Nelson, on Mar. 10, 2022. A musician like her brother, she was a singer, a pianist, and the first member of Willie Nelson’s band where she remained for over 50 years.
Nelson described his sister as a good person who saw the good in others, even after she suffered a mother’s worst heartbreak twice within the same six months. Despite that heartache, she shined “as if her life [had] been a breeze,” he said.
Willie Nelson: ‘Our hearts are broken’ over the death of Bobbie Nelson
The Nelson family shared a statement regarding their loss on Willie Nelson’s Instagram. “Bobbie Nelson passed away this morning, peacefully and surrounded by family,” the caption starts before sharing she “made this world a better place.”
“Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply missed,” it also reads. “But we are so lucky to have had her in our lives.”
The family’s statement concludes with a request to “please keep her family in your thoughts and give them the privacy they need at this time.”
Willie Nelson once said Bobbie Nelson was his ‘rock’ and she said she felt run down without him
In his book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Nelson wrote about his relationship with his older sister, whom he sometimes refers to as his “little” sister.
She was born in Texas on Jan. 1, 1931 and he followed on Apr. 29, 1933. In their childhood, both Bobbie and Willie Nelson were exposed to music by their grandparents and began to cultivate a lifelong love for it together. She wrote a note for his book, sharing, “Our lives are all about music and love.”
“Sister Bobbie is my rock,” Nelson penned of her. “She has been with me since, well, since I first started breathing on this planet.”
He complimented her with words like “beautiful” and “timeless” before declaring she was the best piano player for him because she could roll with his punches. “It doesn’t matter where I run off to in music,” he shared, “she is always there when I get back.”
Maybe most of all, he admired her for seeing the good in people and being a good person herself. “She thinks I hung the moon,” he added, “did I mention that?”
In a 2017 interview with the Austin-American Statesman, Bobbie Nelson said she would feel run down if she was away from her country star brother for more than a few weeks. “It’s just the most wonderful therapy in the world to play with Willie,” she shared.
She also spoke more of the special bond that formed between them in their childhood. “It was just so amazing to us that I could play one part and Willie could play another and together we had a song,” she explained. “We’d look at each other and our eyes would light up.”
Bobbie Nelson had two sons who died before her
While talking to the Austin-American Statesman, Bobbie Nelson spoke about outliving two of three of her children. One son died of leukemia and another in an auto accident within six months of each other. She said their deaths were losses she wouldn’t get over but also taught her to not take the rest of her own life for granted.
“Bobbie has had so much heartache in her life, yet somehow she just lives through it and shines as if her life has been a breeze,” Willie Nelson wrote in Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. “It hasn’t, and that is real courage.”