Willie Nelson Reveals He Had COVID-19: ‘I Had a Pretty Rough Time With It’

At 89 years old, Country Music Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson is still a marvel of energy and productivity. But according to a feature in The New York Times, the music legend was temporarily sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19 back in early May, less than a week after Nelson’s 89th birthday.

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At the time, the iconic performer had shared on social media that he was canceling his May 8 performance and postponing other shows “due to a positive Covid case in the Willie Nelson Family band,” but did not indicate who in the group had contracted the coronavirus. According to the publication, Nelson, who had been sleeping on his tour bus while making a stop in Nashville, woke up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe. He tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a rapid PCR test.

“I had a nebulizer on the bus,” his wife Annie Nelson told NYT. “I started everything I could at that point, including Paxlovid. He had the monoclonal antibodies. He had steroids.”

After returning to their ranch home in Spicewood, Texas, the couple brought a mobile medical unit to his ranch. “We turned the house into a hospital,” she said. “There were a couple of times when I wasn’t sure he was going to make it.” It took six days before Nelson was on the road to recovery.

“I had a pretty rough time with it,” the “On the Road Again” singer added. “COVID ain’t nothing to laugh at, that’s for sure.”

Two weeks later, Nelson was back to performing, playing two shows in New Braunfels, Texas.

In January 2021, he shared photos of himself receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The musician is currently on the road for his Outlaw Music Festival tour. On Sept. 24, Willie Nelson & Family will be in Raleigh, N.C., to once again take the stage at Farm Aid, the nonprofit and benefit concert Nelson launched in 1985 alongside Neil Young and John Mellencamp to raise awareness of the loss of family farms, and to raise money to help keep farm families on their land.