Bobbie Nelson, Willie Nelson’s Older Sister Passed Away At 91
via Willie Nelson / Youtube
Bobbie Lee Nelson, the beloved sister and longtime bandmate of country legend Willie Nelson, has died Thursday at age 91.
The pianist and singer performed alongside her brother for nearly 50 years. Willie once told PEOPLE that Bobbie was “the most naturally talented of all the Nelsons.”
A cause of death was not given. The news was confirmed by a statement shared in Willie’s social media, it read:
“Bobbie Nelson passed away this morning, peacefully and surrounded by family. Her elegance, grace, beauty and talent made this world a better place. She was the first member of Willie’s band, as his pianist and singer. Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply missed. But we are so lucky to have had her in our lives. Please keep her family in your thoughts and give them the privacy they need at this time.”
Bobbie first got into music during school and church performances together with her brother. In 1972, Willie brought her into his band after he’d signed with Atlantic Records. She appeared on several of his albums, including Red Headed Stranger and Shotgun Willie.
Willie told the Austin American-Statesman in 2007:
“There’s just no way to explain how lucky I am to have a good musician in the family. Whenever I’ve needed a piano player, I’ve had Sister Bobbie right there. Whenever our band plays, Sister Bobbie is the best musician on the stage.”
The Nelsons duo released a memoir about their relationship, “Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band” (co-written by David Ritz). Willie recalled on the TODAY show in November 2020:
“My little sister was always on the piano doing great music. I would sit there on the piano stool beside her and try to figure out what the hell she was doing. Sister Bobbie is 10 times a better musician than I am.”
Although Bobbie was a couple of years older than Willie, the country superstar often referred to her as his “little sister.”
In 2008, aged 76, Bobbie released her debut solo album Audiobiography.