Willie Nelson is reflecting on challenges he faced in the past regarding his marriages and infidelities in his new joint memoir, Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band, which he co-wrote with his sister Bobbie Nelson.
In the new book, the country music icon takes a look back at the moment his second wife, Shirley Collie, found out he had a child with another woman. "Shirley saw a bill from a Houston hospital. I tried to play it off as no big deal. I told her that I had to go to the hospital for something minor," he wrote according to People. "Shirley wasn't buying that for one simple reason: The bill said the charges were for the birth of a baby girl, Paula Carlene, born to a Mrs. Connie Nelson."
The birth certificate understandably raised questions for his then-wife, Collie. "Couldn't lie. Was caught flatfooted," Nelson recalls. "Had to get the words out of my mouth. 'Connie’s my girlfriend and Paula's our daughter.'"
Nelson was married to his first wife, Martha Matthews from 1952 to 1962. They had three children together including daughters Lana and Susie and son Willie "Billy" Hugh Jr., who died on Christmas Day in 1991.
In 1963 he married his second wife, Shirley, and the two were divorced in 1971. That same year, the singer wed Connie Kopeke whom he had two daughters with, Paula and Amy.
His third marriage also proved to be unsuccessful as Nelson fell in love with another woman, Annie Marie D'Angelo, who was a makeup artists on the set of the movie Stagecoach.
"I messed up another marriage. My wandering ways were too much for any woman to put up with," Nelson writes. "I'll always love Connie. I'll always love all my wives. I've always said that there's no such thing as a 'former' wife. Once in your life, a wife never leaves. I regret the pain I caused Connie — and Martha and Shirley before her — and have no excuses. But love is love, and in the mideighties I fell head over heels in love with Ann Marie D'Angelo, called Annie. Never had met a woman like her before."
"My love for Annie was all-consuming, but winning her over wasn’t easy,” Nelson admits. "She had to be sure my marriage [to Koepke] was over and that I was truly free."
Eventually, Nelson proved himself to her and she became his fourth wife, whom he is still married to today. The two share two sons, Lukas and Jacob Micah.
"You've already seen that, when it came to romance, I had a gift for complicating things," he continued. "But marrying Annie wasn't complicated at all. It's about the smartest thing I ever did. I can say that because, 34 years after we first met, we're still together and going strong."
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