What would you do if you were a millionaire rock star? Depending on your lifestyle, you may or may not want to get advice from country music legend Willie Nelson. Willie Nelson is famous for all his classic songs, his various acting roles, and his activism. Today
He’s living comfortably in Mau – or at least when he’s not out touring. Under 30 years ago, Willie faces scrutiny from the IRS, leading to a legal battle and an interesting collab album. We all know that Willie Nelson is a character and, through his songs, he has taught us quite a bit about how to live life to the fullest. Join Facts Verse as we take a closer look at Willie Nelson’s rock star lifestyle and what he chooses to spend his wealth on, but before we get into it, don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to Facts Vers for more engaging content on some of your favorite stars.
For us little people, taxation can be quite a burden. Now imagine if you are a millionaire – the tax hit will be astronomical. You can’t blame a person for attempting not to pay all of it. But as tempting as it will be, it’s easier to say than done. Just ask Willie Nelson.
The country music star uses to live on the road. His flashy lifestyle consists of driving fancy cars around, playing shows for thousands, and earning boatloads of money, all the while trying out various investment schemes in an attempt to save it all.
Unfortunately for him, some of those schemes doom illegal by the IRS. On the 9th of November 1990, the feds raided Willie Nelson’s home in Texas, taking everything he owned except for his guitar dubbed ‘trigger’, which he used in the making of several of his most iconic songs.
Willie gave ‘trigger’ to his daughter to keep because he anticipated there would be a raid. Naturally, Willie was on the golf course when the raid happened.
In 1984, the IRS began taking a look into Nelson’s tax returns and found some rather odd irregularities. They found that there were millions in deductions from a tax shelter that Nelson invested in. Of course, he claimed that it was perfectly legal, but it wasn’t, and all those deductions were denied. Nelson is then hit with a fine of $6 million and ordered to pay back another $10 million in interest rates that accrue over the years.
This led to years of courtroom drama and settlements between Willie Nelson’s lawyers and the government. Right off that bat, Nelson sues the people he invests with for $45 million, and an unknown number settles. But even though the original bill sent to Willie Nelson was for over $16 million after hard-fought negotiations, they whittled that number down to
Nelson still couldn’t afford to pay that or anywhere close to that. In an interview with Texas Monthly Magazine, Nelson’s daughter Lana Nelson said, ‘he didn’t have $1
million’ and added that he probably didn’t even have $30,000.
So, you’re probably wondering why this video is called ‘How Willie Nelson Spends His Millions’
if he’s allegedly broke. Keep watching to find out, but first, make sure you give us a like and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already.
Paying Off His Debts
Okay, it’s time to find out how Willie Nelson Spends His Millions. Simply put, he spends most of his cash paying back to the IRS.
All his houses and other assets combined still weren’t close enough to settling his debt, so the IRS gave him the option to make an album where some of the profits would go towards his outstanding debt. Talk about a unique collaboration.
The album, humorously titled ‘The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?’ is released in June of 1991 with an MSRP of $19.95. Sales of that record are split, with $6 to Nelson and $3 to the IRS. The remaining $10 went to the record company that published the album.
Even though Willie Nelson was a star, and during this time, he had much support from fans and various organizations, the album didn’t sell enough to cover the debt. The good news was that it certainly helped. During this time, Nelson settles some lawsuits with other cases he catches up in, and he was able to cover the rest of the debt within the year.
All in all, it didn’t take that long to pay them back all, and he ultimately learns a vital life lesson. (When it comes to investments at least).
And when have you heard of the IRS telling an artist to make an album just to help settle a debt? This was a very unique case. In an interview with Rolling Stone, when asked if the whole debacle took a toll on him, Willie Nelson admitted that it didn’t affect him that much. He said that the IRS didn’t really bother him after the first day of record sales. They merely wanted to find the best solution to help him.
After dealing with all that, Nelson went back to doing what he loves most – making songs with Trigger and driving fancy cars. Now that he has cleared up his tax troubles, he can finally spend his millions freely and
He’s earned more money by releasing a ton of albums and going on tours. He is an avid car collector, and because he’s a country star, you’d think he has a ranch full of pickup trucks, but actually, he prefers to drive various Mercedes, an orange 1967 Ford Mustang, a classic 1983 tour bus, and to top it off, being an avid golfer, he owns a red Rolls Royce golf cart.
Willie Nelson spends a lot of his millions on property. He was able to buy more property around the US after his IRS scare, including ‘Luck, Texas’ a ranch in Spicewood, and a home in sunny Maui.
In Maui, Nelson opened a bar called ‘Charley’s’. He operated it with his sons, and it was open for years. Sometimes Nelson himself would perform with his sons or with special guests. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the bar had to shut down for good.
Maybe Nelson could’ve kept Charley’s open, but with everyone encouraged to stay home, Nelson wanted to do his part – albeit reluctantly.
Willie Nelson has been married four times and has a total of seven kids. While no amount is too high for those we love, a lot of his money has gone towards trying to keep his wives happy while raising his children.
How Willie Made His Million
Willie Hugh Nelson was born on the 29th of April 1933 in Abbott, Texas. His grandfather, who raised him and his sister, bought him his first guitar when he was 6. Willie wrote his first song when he was seven and would sing in the church choir every Sunday.
By nine, he was the guitarist in a band called ‘Bohemian Polka’. While music was his first love, in high school, Willie played football, basketball, and baseball, and was a member of the Future Farmers of America.
While still in high school, Nelson joined a band formed by his sister’s husband called ‘The Texans’ and they played at an event called ‘honky tonks’. They also played on a radio show every Sunday morning.
After high school, Willie briefly joined the air force. And he left the military, he enrolled at Baylor University to study agriculture. After 2 years of school, Nelson felt a calling to play music, so he dropped out and play music full time. To support himself before he got big, he worked as a saddle maker, tree trimmer, mechanic, and even a bouncer.
Nelson’s music career began after getting a job at a radio station in Pleasanton, Texas. It was there where he recorded his first two singles ‘The Storm Has Just Begun’ and ‘When I’ve
Sung My Last Hillbilly Song’.
He sent those demos to a record label but was swiftly rejected. After that, he played in nightclubs around the country until he found himself in Portland. On the west coast, he found work at radio stations in Washington, Oregon, and Vancouver.
During all this time at radio stations and nightclubs, Nelson found time to write plenty of songs and take advantage of all the resources he had, allowing him to stockpile demos ready to send out.
Nelson got his break in Nashville in 1960 when he signed a contract and released
his first album ‘…And Then I Wrote.’ In 1962. He became even more well-known by the mid
’70s. From there, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame – and with that came fortune.
No one ever simply finds their path without a few hiccups along the way. It takes years of dedication to get to where you want to be with your goals. It took Willie Nelson years to earn his millions, and throughout his musical journey, there were times when he was unsure if he’d make it. But eventually, he did make it, and success came with a great deal of wealth – just to have it all almost taken away by the government.
But now that he’s debt-free, he enjoys his days in the Maui sun.
Now you know how legendary country music icon Willie Nelson spends his millions. First, it was on houses, cars, and women. Then he had to pay back the IRS $6 million. Once he settled his debts, he could then spend his money a bit more freely.
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Were you surprised to hear about Willie’s trouble with the IRS? And how would you spend your millions if you had them? Let us know in the comments section down below.