The Story Behind ‘Shotgun Willie’

admin —  October 19, 2013 — 40 Comments

Willie has been described as a man of wisdom and a peacemaker, but he wasn’t always the gentle soul that many now know him as. Nicknamed ‘Shotgun Willie’ for the shootout that happened when he heard his daughter Lana was being physically assaulted by her husband Steve.

I ran for my truck and drove to the place where Steve and Lana lived and slapped Steve around,” Willie recalls. “He really pissed me off. I told him if he ever laid a hand on Lana again, I would come back and drown his ass. No sooner did I get back to Ridgetop than here came Steve in his car, shooting at the house with a .22 rifle. I was standing in the door of the barn and a bullet tore up the wood two feet from my head. I grabbed an M-1 rifle and shot at Steve’s car. Steve made one pass and took off.”

Willie then returned to Steve and Lana’s to find Steve had left and kidnapped their young son Nelson Ray. Lana told Willie that Steve was looking to ‘get rid of him.’ So Willie drove back to Ridgetop and waited.

“Thinking Steve would come to Ridgetop to pick me off about dusk, I hid in the truck so he couldn’t tell if I was home. We laid a trap for him. I had my M-1 and a shotgun. He drove by the house, and I ran out the garage door. Steve saw me and took off. That’s when I shot his car and shot out his tire. Steve called the cops on me. Instead of explaining the whole damn mess, the beatings and the semi-kidnapping and shooting and all, I told the officers he must have run over the bullet. The police didn’t want to get involved in hillbilly family fights. They wrote down what I told them on their report and took off.”

Willie may have softened over time, but the story continues to live on.

To salute this iconic Willie story we just released a ‘Shotgun Willie’ tee in the store! This family approved tee includes beautiful lettering that gives an authentic vintage feel!




Shotgun Willie tee





What are your other favorite Willie stories? Add to the discussion in the comments below!



40 responses to The Story Behind ‘Shotgun Willie’

  1. And he’s still kickin butt with his music! You go Willie!

    • willie, just an upstanding dad, i would do the same thing if it’d been me.will do the samething for my grandaughters too.

  2. Looking forward to hearing you and Trigger tonight at the Stafford Center.
    As I have told you before, we share the same birthday – April 30th – and we are both Roosters on the Chinese Zodiac, but you are 12 years older. 🙂

  3. Maybe we will here Shotgun Willies song in Little Rock tomorrow night I will be there!!

  4. You dun good, Mr. Nelson!

  5. Now I know….

  6. You rock, Willie. I have to say, I am impressed and really happy that you didn’t kill the sorry sumbitch. You are my favorite musician and writer.

  7. Incredible story! I could totally picture a young Willie doing this…

  8. That’s the way it was then and that’s the way it should be now ! We all should be shotgun willies .Your #1 Willie…

  9. I’m glad to know I ain’t the only person who’s kinfolks that will take the law in their own hands…only when needed…love ya willie!

  10. WOW!!! That was an amazing, and true, story!!! Things really were far different then than they are today; that is for sure.


  11. Stephanie Morgan November 19, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I can recall my uncle, Lynn Price telling a story about riding around in a golf cart with Willie at his home. I think there was a lot more involved than playing golf! HAHA!! My uncle thought Willie was the best….and so do I.

  12. Before my husband died (was murdered) he had every song that Willie had sung. I love Willie and I can believe he took care of the one he loved, good for you Willie. By the way my husbands name was Emmett Smith and I lost him Aug. 7, 1998.

  13. When he came to your house shooting at AFTER your conversation re: physically abusing your daughter you shouldn’t have aimed at an innocent tire! Nail the real culprit!

  14. A man’s gotta do what a man’s goota do.

  15. Hell Willie, the M1 and a twelve gauge used to me my weapons of choice on many hunting outings. Short range and long range. We have that in common. I have been a fan for years and am older than water. I would hazzard a guess that I sort of fit in the Outlaw crew. Thank for all you do and the great songs.

  16. Gloria Burke Gough November 19, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    You should write another book of short stories. On the computer, I saw you tell the story about killing Ray Price’s rooster–it was funny and interesting, too.

  17. Pamela Lindberg Hughes November 19, 2013 at 7:57 PM


  18. William Clinton Taylor aka Shotgun-Willie November 19, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    I guess almost everyone named William has a Willie story. I am a life long fan and admirer of Mr. Nelson, and much like his encounter which earned him the nick-name, I too have had numerous confrontations with a shotgun in my hand, mine was 13 inches long. Beginning in 1971 I worked for some rather unscrupulous individuals for five years eight months and nine days. My job was to travel anywhere in the USA and collect money owed to my employer. I will not elaborate further. I do however plan to purchase a shirt. Who knows maybe I’ll write a book!

  19. tnx Willie (y)

  20. Wow, I just love Willie stories. He is such a great person and full of great stories. Would love to know more of them!!! You go Willie!!!

  21. Just wondering what happened to his daughter and his grandchild. I hope they were ok after all of this.

  22. Ran over my Bullet.

  23. God bless family and America. I admire a man who takes care of his family. Way to go Willie.

  24. So is your daughter still married to him? I really hope not but if she is I hope that you taught him a lesson he will never forget. Don’t mess with my daughter! Thanks for this little piece of information- wish you would come to Illinois for your Farm Aid someday soon- down by Champaign please.

  25. Great story, it really paints a picture. It should be a scene in a movie. ” The Life And Times Of “Shotgun” Willie Nelson ” , or ” The Willie Nelson Story “. Your fans would love it and future generations could always get a glimpse of the man that has inspired and entertained the world for so many years. Keep up the good work . Good luck on your new tour . Maybe I’ll get to see you “On The Road Again” when you are near Houston. ….. A fan for life, .. RB.

  26. My old add.RT#2 Greer Rd. Goodlettsville Tennessee, Son of W.G.Greer same address Moved to Dallas in 82, now in Aubrey Tx. I have a story from back around 1964, I was the 14 year boy on the Cushaman scooter that hit the 65 Ford Fairlane in front of your house on Greer rd. down from uncle Loui Greer,( Ronny) Ronald Greer’s cousin. Need to get back and get me some country Ham and biskets.

  27. I made a canteen gourd for you with your name across the front. It was about 5 yrs.ago at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson.I am hoping that the casino personal got it to you. Sincerely D.R.Nance

  28. that’s a hell of nice story to tell your grandkids Willie!!!!!!!! I think I would do the same f*ck’n thing !!

  29. Im a retired Chicago Police Officer & a big Willie Nelson fan. I’ve seen alot in a 33 yr career in Chicago. I worked on the west side of the city for 16 yrs or so. We could have used a guy like Willie shot gun and all. Great story

  30. Awesome story, I guess Shotgun Willie sounded better than M-1 Willie? lol. Go Willie!

  31. I also like the story about Bee Spears putting on the pink tutu and swinging down on the wire behind yall

  32. 66yrs old grew up on Willie his music has been a great influence in my life

  33. Thomas James Quillan November 22, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    YAY WILLIE!<(")

  34. Just love to see a new pic of Willie. Shirt is great too. Told my husband, when we go married 57 years ago, Willie is the only one if would trade him for. Guess he’s not too concerned now. Keep the songs and pictures coming. Also, enjoyed the story. Nothing I wouldn’t have guessed he would do.

  35. Cool story Willie….I have a question that’s totally unrelated to your domestic problems but it’s a curiosity that some of us locals here are wondering about. Did you ever or are you now acquainted with a man named Al Walsh ( claims to know you and has played gigs with you ).

    Thanks for taking the time to answer this stupid question. You’re the best all around damned guitar player I’v e ever seen or heard. Hang in there and pick till you can’t.

  36. I’d be honored to smoke a joint with you.Love your songs.

  37. I love the story and I love Willie… but the t-shirt isn’t the kind of quality product I expected. It’s made in Honduras out of pretty lightweight material. No felt letters anywhere on the shirt I bought. I still wear it with pride, though I’m not sure how long it’ll last.

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