Shirley Collie Nelson, Former Wife and Duet Partner of Willie Nelson, Dies

Shirley Collie Nelson, the second wife of Willie Nelson who charted three hit country singles in the early ’60s, died Wednesday (Jan. 27) in Missouri at the age of 78. Recording for Liberty Records, she reached No. 10 on the Billboard country charts in 1962 with Nelson on the duet, “Willingly,” written by Hank Cochran. The single marked Willie Nelson’s first appearance on the Billboard country chart as a recording artist. They were married from 1963 to 1971. Collie’s first charting single, “Dime a Dozen” by Harlan Howard, reached No. 25 in 1961. A few months later, a duet version of “Why, Baby, Why” with Warren Smith reached No. 23. In the late 1950s, she was a cast member of the Ozark Jubilee. Before marrying Nelson, she was married to the disc jockey Biff Collie, who also recorded under the name Billy Bob Bowman. In 2009, she published a book, Scrapbooks in My Mind: Featuring Shirley and Willie Nelson and Many Others.