EXPIRED: 01/27/10 – Shirley Collie, 78, was a country music and rockabilly singer who charted with three hit country singles in the early ’60s and was married to Willie Nelson, from ’63 to ’71.
Born in Chillicothe, Missouri as Shirley Simpson, Collie was cast in the TV variety show Ozark Jubilee in the late 1950s. She then hit the Billboard country chart with “Dime a Dozen” at number 25 and “Why Baby Why” at number 23 (a duet with Warren Smith) in 1961; and “Willingly“, a duet with Nelson, in 1962. The Nelson duet, written by Hank Cochran for Liberty Records, reached number 10, and was also his first as a recording artist.
The pairing of the two on “Willingly” was enough for Collie to divorce her husband Biff Collie, a country disc jockey who also recorded as Billy Bob Bowman, to marry Nelson.
The singles kinda ran dry for Collie during the marriage, just as Nelson’s star started to rise. The couple split in 1971.
Just last year she published a book, Scrapbooks in My Mind: Featuring Shirley and Willie Nelson and Many Others. On the book cover Nelson is quoted saying “I swear it’s all true.”