It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Willie Nelson’s younger sister, Bobbie Nelson, on Thursday morning at the age of 91. There was no mention of a manner of death; her demise was reported as “truly peaceful and accompanied by relatives.
Willie Nelson stated the Austin American-Statesman in 2007: “There’s really no way to convey how happy I am to have a fantastic musician in my family.” “Sister Bobbie has always been there for me whenever I needed a pianist. […]” Sister Bobbie is the finest pianist on stage every time our band performs.”
Willie and Bobbie performed their last show together on Oct. 9 at Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas, following 5 decades of performing together officially plus eight and a half years of pairing up in the house.
There were times when Willie Nelson fans were able to see more than a sliver of her face at a concert, but her curly hair assured them she was a part of the band no matter what else happened.
Nelson’s affection for his sister was just so great that the two of them recorded and published together, as a pair, many CDs and books. One of the Nelsons’ most recent books, “Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band” (co-authored by David Ritz), was published in June of last year.
“My younger sister was usually on the piano performing amazing music,” Nelson said on the “Today” program during November 2020. “I’d perch on the piano bench next to her and attempt to decipher what she was trying to say. … “Sister Bobbie is ten times excellent than I am at playing the guitar,” he said. “I believe I’m an even better con artist than you,” he said after she rebuffed him.
Even though she was many years of age, the country music legend alluded to Bobbie as his “baby sister” on several occasions. As children, their grandfather taught them “The Great Speckled Bird,” which solidified their musical bond, but it would be years until he realized he could work with Bobbie.
Amid the Great Recession, the talented musician was born on January 1, 1931, only two years ahead of Willie who was born in 1933. They were reared by their grandparents while their parents were still in high school in Abbott, Texas’ rural hamlet, with the gentleman they nicknamed “Daddy” training Willie guitar as well as “Mama” educating Bobbie on piano lessons. Both played on Sundays at the Methodist Church, but Bobbie’s skill led to her performing at other Baptist churches as well.