Nashville remembers Bobbie Nelson, longtime piano player for brother Willie Nelson

Bobbie Nelson
Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 20:09:48-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — She was the older sibling, but Willie Nelson famously called her his "little" sister.

The country music world said goodbye to Bobbie Nelson. The talented piano player who helped foster Willie's love of music died Thursday. She was 91. She also toured with her brother for decades as a key member of his band.

"She taught him," country and Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely said to NewsChannel 5. "She learned piano, so he learned a lot playing guitar from her."

Seely knows the story well. Bobbie moved to Nashville in the '60s, where she played different venues until Willie called in the early '70s for her to play on some of his recording sessions. Bobbie began the decades of touring with her brother. Seely said early on it was rare to have a woman playing piano in a touring band, and Bobbie's talent was clear.

"Bobbie was just absolutely a part of Willie's life," said Seely. "He knew what a part of his sound she was. He respected that so much. None of us want to think about Willie hurting like he is today. Our hearts are all with Willie."

Seely said with a sad day comes an opportunity to remember a talent, a friend, a kind heart.

"She simply exuded love," Seely said. "She truly loved everybody and let you know it. To know you left those kinds of memories to people would be a wonderful legacy. I don't think there was a relationship in the world that could have been any closer than they were."