Willie Nelson had a serious bout with COVID-19 in early May, the living legend revealed in a new profile The New York Times published last month. Nelson woke up in the middle of the night and was struggling to breathe. The "On the Road Again" singer's family took the pandemic seriously at the beginning, staying off the road and quarantined at Nelson's ranch in Spicewood, Texas. Once they were back on the road though, it was tough for the singer to avoid the coronavirus.
On May 4, Nelson and his wife, Annie Nelson, were in Nashville and it was just days before his 89th birthday. Nelson woke up in the middle of the night and struggled to breathe. The Nelson team called a healthcare worker who helped administer a rapid PCR test. It showed Nelson had the virus. Annie had a nebulizer on the tour bus. "I started everything I could at that point, including Paxlovid. He had the monoclonal antibodies. He had steroids," Annie, Nelson's wife of over 30 years, told the Times.
They drove all night back to Spicewood, where Annie called for a medical unit. They turned their house into a hospital, she said. "There were a couple of times when I wasn't sure he was going to make it," she explained.
"I had a pretty rough time with it," Nelson said. "Covid ain't nothing to laugh at, that's for sure." Thankfully, Nelson recovered within six days. Two weeks after testing positive, he was back on the road, performing two shows in New Braunfels, Texas.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Nelson and Annie hunkered down at the ranch in Spicewood. His adult sons, Lukas and Micah, and Micah's wife Alex joined them. For months, Annie was the only one who left the ranch, just to get groceries. Almost every night, Nelson, Micah, and Lukas gathered in the living room to travel through the country music songbook with their guitars. It was the first time in decades Nelson went an extended period of time without performing on stage.
"It kept us sane, sort of," Lukas told the Times. "My dad was bored. He was anxious. He was in a state of existential dread, fearing that this thing he'd done his whole life would never come back."
Thankfully for Nelson and the millions of fans he has, he was able to hit the road again. His next show is on Sept. 9 in Alpharetta, Georgia and he has dates scheduled through Oct. 18. "At the end of every tour, Will talks about retiring," Annie told the Times. "'I think I might retire.' But then we'll have a conversation: 'Well, what would you do if you retired?' We both know the answer: Just lay down and die. It's impossible to imagine him not being out there."