$67, $97 & $127
Country music legend Willie Nelson has set the bar pretty high for contemporary musicians, having written some of country's most popular songs and even helping to pioneer outlaw country. He is well known for creating Farm Aid, and perhaps even more well known for the tour dates that fund the operation. Nelson's albums have become some of the best selling for any country music artist, releasing 67 studio albums and 27 collaborations with some of country's biggest stars.
Willie Nelson began playing the guitar from a young age, participating in bands and singing in the church choir. He moved to Washington in 1956 to begin a professional career in music, but became more successful writing songs for others while he struggled to play small tour dates. He retired to Austin, TX in 1971, but found that the city's liberal music scene inspired him to create his own brand of country music. He became Atlantic Records' first country artist and debuted his more laid back, rock-inspired sound (later becoming a part of outlaw country) on his 1974 album, Phases and Stages. Nelson continued to display this sound on 1975's Red Headed Stranger, on collaborative albums with artists like Jessi Colter, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings, and on tour dates that were becoming a huge draw.
The 1978 album, Stardust, showed that Nelson could achieve the opposite of his earlier career by turning country standards into his own hit songs. In 1985, Willie Nelson joined Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash in forming The Highwaymen. The country supergroup released three hit albums over the next ten years and played sold-out tour dates to overly enthusiastic fans. Willie Nelson spent most of the 90s playing tour dates until the release of the smash-hit Teatro in 1998, which featured back-up vocals by Emmylou Harris. Willie Nelson was joined by even more mainstream artists on the 2002 album, The Great Divide, which featured Rob Thomas, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, and Alison Krauss. Additionally, in 2003, he appeared on country megastar Toby Keith's chart topping song, "Beer for My Horses".
Ever the philanthropist, Nelson headlined the 2005 Tsunami Relief Austin to support victims of the the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake. 2007 saw a collaboration album between Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price titled Last of the Breed, which was followed a year later by Nelson's solo album, Moment of Forever. Both albums broke into the top ten of Billboard's Top Country Albums.
In 2012, Nelson signed with Legacy Recordings to release both future and curated past recordings. He began his tenure with 2012's Heroes, which featured mostly standards and guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, and more. However, it also featured new songs that Nelson wrote with his sons Lukas and Micah. A year later, Nelson followed-up with To All The Girls..., which featured his collection of duets with female artists like Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, among others. The latter album became his 46th album to break into the top ten of Billboard's Top Country albums, as well as his second album to be featured in the top ten of the Billboard 200.
Nelson continued to shine in his career resurgence, with his 2014 album Spirit topping country charts; the first time the musician had done so since 1986.