Lukas Autry Nelson moved from Paia, Hawaii to Los Angeles in 2007 to attend Loyola Marymount University. In early 2008, Lukas met drummer Anthony LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert. Shortly after, the two began playing music together in Seal Beach, California.
In October 2008 Lukas dropped out of college to pursue his music career full-time. Lukas called Anthony Logerfo (drummer), Tato Melgar (percussionist), Merlyn Kelly (bassist), and formed Promise of the Real.
The band played its first shows in the fall of 2008 selling its first EP “Live Beginnings” to pay for touring. The album contained live tracks recorded at the famed “Belly Up” venue in Solana Beach, California.
In January 2009, the band began a nine-show tour opening for Willie Nelson including a five night stop at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Next was a two-week tour with B.B. King through Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska. Before the tours ended the band had sold all its “Live Beginnings” CDs.
In April 2009 Promise of the Real released its first self-released studio recording, Brando’s Paradise Sessions. The EP's cover art became the basis for the band’s Peace Sign logo.
Original bassist Merlyn Kelly left the band in 2009. Corey McCormick became the band's full-time bass player in 2010. McCormick had performed with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and other bands.
The band released its first full-length record, “Promise of the Real,” in December 2010.
"Promise of the Real" was recorded in Austin, Texas at Pedernales Studios in March 2010. Album engineer Steve Chadie's 6-year-old daughter provided the cover art. The album also contains a booklet of paintings and illustrations created on stage by Lukas Nelson's brother, Micah, during the band's concerts.
The album consists of 12 "official" tracks and 1 bonus track. The band pays homage to two of Lukas’s main influences, Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young - “Pali Gap/Hey Baby" and “L.A.”, respectively. The band also covers “Peaceful Solution,” a song written by Lukas's father, Willie Nelson, and his sister Amy Niccore. Willie Nelson sings back up on “Sound of Your Memory” and “Fathers and Mothers”. Lukas’s aunt, Bobbie Nelson, plays piano on "Fathers and Mothers".
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real played more than 200 shows across the United States during 2011, promoting “Promise of the Real.” Major festival appearances included Stagecoach, Farm Aid, Bridge School Benefit, Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground and Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour. The band also made national TV appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the Late Show with David Letterman.
The band frequently opened shows for Willie Nelson again in 2012 during which Lukas played with his father's band.
The band released their second full length studio album, "Wasted", on April 3, 2012. Following the album's release the band embarked on a national tour beginning April 6 at Antone’s Nightclub in Austin, Texas.
Lukas and the band were also featured on an exclusive webcast through Yahoo Music that was shot at TRI Studios (Bob Weir’s studio). The webcast aired on April 17, 2012 and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Along with the webcast, the band was featured as the homepage artist on Yahoo music.
On May 1, 2012, Live Nation announced that Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real would back John Fogerty on his coast-to-coast tour of Canada in September 2012.
Willie Nelson’s album Heroes released on May 15, 2012 featured Lukas playing guitar and/or singing on 10 out of 14 tracks.
Willie and Promise of the Real performed a cover of Pearl Jam’s "Just Breathe" live on Willie’s Roadhouse channel on Sirius XM on May 15, 2012. Lukas and Willie also performed "Texas Flood" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on May 14, 2012.
The band and Micah Nelson collaborated with Neil Young on The Monsanto Years which included "A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop" which targets Starbucks and its use of genetically modified food. POTR and Michal Nelson toured as Young's backing band in 2015 and 2016.