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April 30

Willie Nelson

Nelson, who received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1998, supports a range of causes, from advocating humane treatment of horses to promoting greater use of bio-fuels.

Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic/Getty Images

1933: Part Hippie, Part Outlaw, All Talent
Willie Nelson is born in Abbott, Texas
He’s a songwriter and singer, an activist, actor, and author. And yes, Willie Nelson, whose hit songs run from “Always on My Mind” to “Good Hearted Woman,” is also an American icon. His grandparents got him music lessons through the mail when he was a very young boy, and he landed a spot playing guitar in a band at the ripe old age of nine. In addition to playing and singing his own music, flecked with jazz, folk, and rock influences, Nelson wrote monster hits like “Crazy” and "Pretty Paper.”

He conceived the Farm Aid concerts in 1985 as a way to bring awareness to the financial and agricultural problems faced by American farmers. These concerts were hugely successful and helped pass laws protecting farmers from foreclosure. Wearing his signature long braid down his back, Willie Nelson continues to sell out stadium shows, write music, and support many charity organizations.
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