The Children of Outlaw Country: Meet Their Musical Offspring

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Outlaw Country movement took the music world by storm in the 1970s and early 1980s, taking a left turn from the then-more prevalent slicker Nashville sound. Since then, like many important shifts in popular music, it’s remained an essential era in the history of country music.

With a Mount Rushmore of artists in the Outlaw Country movement like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and David Allan Coe, the myth and legends that come with the style born from rebellion remain intact.

The genre was solidified in 1976 with the release of the LP, Wanted! The Outlaws, featuring Jennings, Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. The record became the first country album to earn platinum certification. With long hair, hard songs, and a penchant for smoking cannabis, the outlaws were on the loose.

But what about the next generation? What about the offspring of these famous songwriters and performers? Without further ado, let’s meet the children of the Outlaw Country movement.

1. Shooter Jennings

Shooter Jennings; Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Waylon Albright “Shooter” Jennings, who previously spoke with American Songwriter HERE, is perhaps the most musically accomplished of all the offspring from the Outlaw movement. The son of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, Shooter is a Grammy Award-winning artist. He produced many acclaimed records as of late, including By the Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile. Born in 1979, Shooter is also a notable songwriter and performer.

2. Lukas Nelson and Paula Nelson

Paula and Lukas Nelson; Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Frontman for Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Lukas has followed in his father Willie Nelson’s footsteps. The California-based band, which has served as a backing band for Neil Young, is comprised of Lukas, Anthony LoGerfo, Corey McCormick, Logan Metz, and Taco Melgar. The band has released six studio albums to date, along with four EPs. Lukas was also on Willie’s 2021 LP, The Willie Nelson Family.

Also on that 2021 LP was Willie’s daughter Paula Nelson, a country music singer and disc jockey. In 2013, Paula sang a duet with Willie for a cover of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” for his album, To All the Girls… and she worked for four years as a DJ at the Texas station KDRP-LP. She has also hosted The Paula Nelson Show on the Outlaw Country channel on Sirius XM. In October 2016, she was awarded Female Artist of Year by the Country Music Association of Texas.

Altogether, Willie has 8 children: Lana Nelson, Susie Nelson, Willie “Billy” Hugh Jr., Paula, Amy, Lukas, Micah, who also sings, and Renee.

3. Hank Williams III and Holly Williams

Hank Williams III; Photo by Frank Mullen/WireImage

The legend of the Hank Williams name continues. Not only was the original considered one of the best songwriters of all time, but his progeny has continued. Hank Williams Jr. is considered a member of the Outlaw lineage and, thus, so is his son, Shelton who performs as Hank Williams III.

Hank Williams Jr. has other children too, including Hilary and Sam Williams, who are also musicians. His grandson Coleman Williams (Hank III’s son) performs under the name Hank Williams IV. (See the family legacy HERE. )

Holly Williams; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Holly Williams is the granddaughter of Hank Williams, the niece of Jett Williams, the daughter of Hank Williams Jr., and the half-sister of Hank Williams III. And to date, she has released three studio albums: The Ones We Never Knew in 2004, Here with Me in 2009, and The Highway in 2013.

4. Casey Kristofferson

Casey Kristofferson; Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage for Shock Ink

Casey Kristofferson is the only child of Kris Kristofferson and his second wife, recording artist Rita Coolidge. She’s a North Carolina-based touring and recording artist and fronts the group, Casey Kristofferson Band. According to her band bio, her first tour was at 7 weeks old with parents Kris and Rita, and since then the road has simply become a part of her.

5. Tyler Mahan Coe and Shelli Coe

Tyler Mahan Coe; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

The eldest son of David Allan Coe, Tyler Mahan Coe was born in 1984 and he played in his father’s band since he was 15 years old. He’s also run a podcast called Cocaine & Rhinestones where he talks about country music history. The first season of that show debuted in 2017.

Shelli Coe was born and raised in Austin, Texas. As young as three years old, she was on her father’s album, Family Album. She’s also toured with her father as a backing singer. She returned to the business in 2006 with new music after helping to raise a family.

6. Rosanne Cash, Cindy Cash, and John Carter Cash

Rosanne Cash; Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Johnny Cash with daughter Cindy Cash; Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns
John Carter Cash; Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images for YouTube

The Cash clan extends far and wide. While famed songwriter and performer Johnny Cash may or may not have been considered a true Outlaw Country artist, his musical spirit has only ever been that. So, we’re counting him here. With his first wife, Vivian Liberto, he had four daughters: Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara. Later, when Cash and his first wife spit, the deep-voiced singer met June Carter of the Carter Family. June and Johnny had one son, John Carter Cash, who has since married another musician, Ana Cristina Cash.

7. Spiritual Heirs

While certain artists may not be blood-related to the Outlaw Country legends above, some do share a spiritual connection to the style and genre. Those more recent standouts include Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and Guy Clark, all of whom exhibit the rebellious verve of their musical forefathers. Check out some of those below.

Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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