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How a Gunfight Earned Willie Nelson his Nickname of Shotgun Willie

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Willie Nelson is a Texas music legend. Fans all over the world know his songs by heart, but how many people know where he got the nickname Shotgun Willie? The Texas troubadour is thought of as a gentle, soft-spoken man of peace. All of which he is, of course. Heck, he’s basically a Texas Buddha. But this wild story also proves that when the occasion demands it, Willie Nelson doesn’t lose his head in a gunfight.

It all started when Willie learned that his daughter Lana was suffering abuse at the hands of her husband Steve. “I ran for my truck and drove to the place where Steve and Lana lived and slapped Steve around,” Willie said. After telling his son-in-law never to lay a hand on Lana again, Willie drove back home. At the time, Willie and his family were living in Ridgetop, Tennessee. Minutes after arriving home, Willie saw Steve come driving up in his car and begin firing at the house with a .22 rifle. Willie was standing in the barn doorway, and a bullet slammed into the wood only two feet from his head.  So what did Willie do? Why, he grabbed his M-1 rifle and fired right back, of course. Steve made only a single pass in front of the house, then sped away.

How a Gunfight Earned Willie Nelson his Nickname of Shotgun Willie

Photo: Facebook/Willie Nelson

At this point, you’re probably thinking, Wait, a minute—an M-1 isn’t a shotgun, so how did that gunfight earn Willie his nickname? Well, that was only the first gunfight. There was a bigger shooting match still to come.

Willie checked in on Lana and learned that her husband had left, taking their young child Nelson Ray with him. Willie came back home and settled in to wait—he knew Steve would be back to pay him another visit. “Thinking Steve would come to Ridgetop to pick me off about dusk,” Willie said, “I hid in the truck so he couldn’t tell if I was home… I had my M-1 and a shotgun.” When Steve drove by, Shotgun Willie came charging out of the garage. Steve took one look and decided to retreat. “That’s when I shot his car and shot out his tire,” Willie said.

How a Gunfight Earned Willie Nelson his Nickname of Shotgun Willie
Photo: Facebook/Willie Nelson

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