Nashville, TN

Willie Nelson's Christmas Day Heartache

Herbie J Pilato

According to, The early '90s proved to be a very terrible time for Willie Nelson as news of his son's tragic death hit the media. At the time, Billy, who was only 33 years old, was discovered dead and hanging from a cord in his Nashville home.

As documented on, "On December 27th, 1991, one of the brightest stars on the country music scene, got a phone call that would change his life forever. Somebody had informed him that his son, Willie Hugh Jr., had passed away.

"The 33-year-old son from Nelson’s first marriage had apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in his home. A friend of Billy’s, who visited him on the 24th, said he seemed perfectly happy then– he had gotten himself a haircut and some new pants and boots. The year before his death, Willie Junior had undergone a thirty-day hospital program for alcohol abuse. The father and son shared a very special bond through music; they had even been working on a new gospel-inspired album together at the time.

"The worst part was that the suicide took place on Christmas Eve, so we figure the holiday season has never been the same again for the Nelson family."

According to reports, Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Harlan confirmed that the death was a suicide.

As relayed, "The authorities revealed that Billy’s famous father, Willie Nelson, was away in Abbott, Texas when he received the heart-rending news. Evelyn Shriver, a spokesperson for Willie, made a statement the very next day to confirm the reports and also disclosed that Willie "is very sad and trying to deal with it."

"Billy Nelson is the product of Willie's very first marriage in the early fifties; his ten-year union to Martha Matthews. It was a rather infamous union, and although it lasted about a decade, it was a horrible time for the Nelson household.

"Unlike what you might have been thinking, it wasn't Willie doing the assaulting, it was Martha, and no doubt experiencing that may have been a very terrible time for their three children: Lana, Susie, and Willie 'Billy' Hugh, Jr.," concluded.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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