Billy Joe Shaver dies at 81
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Billy Joe Shaver dies at 81

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 – Texas singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, part of the Outlaw Country movement, died of a stroke this morning at 81.

Shaver was known for such songs as "I've Been to Georgia on a Fast Train" and as a writer for the likes of Waylon Jeninngs.

Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson were among those who recorded Shaver's songs.

Shaver, who was born in Corsicana, Texas, on Aug. 16, 1939 to a single mother as his father left before Shaver was born. He quit school in the eighth grade to help his uncle with cotton. At 17, he joined the Navy. After leaving, he went to work in a lumber mill. One day his right hand became caught in the machinery, and he most of two fingers, but managed to teach himself to play guitar.

He broke into the business as a songwriter, penning 10 of the 11 songs on Jennings' "Honky Tonk Heroes."

That attracted the attention of labels, but several of them folded. Shaver's debut Monument album, "Old Fiver And Dimers Like Me," was released in 1973. His last album was 2014's "Long In The Tooth."

"When I Get My Wings (1976) included "Ain't No God In Mexico" (also a hit for Waylon Jennings). "Gypsy Boy" (1977) included "Honky Tonk Heroes" and "You Asked Me To."

One of Shaver's best known songs was "Live Forever," which he wrote with his son Eddy. Robert Duvall sang it in the movie "Crazy Heart."

One of Shaver's most acclaimed discs was "Tramp On Your Street" on 1993.

Shaver was preceded in death by his longtime guitar player and son, Eddy, in 2000.

"Long in the Tooth" was released on Aug. 5, 2014 by Lightning Rod Records. This became his first album to chart in Billboard's Top Country Albums, entering at 19.

In 2019, Shaver received the Poet's Award from the Academy of Country Music to honor his achievements in songwriting.

Shaver was preceded in death by his wife, Brenda, who he married and divorced several times.


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CD reviews for Billy Joe Shaver

CD review - Long in the Tooth Billy Joe Shaver does a lot of looking back on life and the travails of love on his first release since 2008's "Everybody's Brother." That's understandable given the rough-and-tumble life of Shaver, who lived up to the outlaw country moniker of his music. Shaver continues in the long line of ace Texas singer/songwriter types like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Shaver puts his cards on the table on the opening "Hard to Be an Outlaw." With help from Willie ...
CD review - Live at Billy Bob's Texas Waylon and Willie and Johnny and Kris may have lit the fire of public awareness, but those in the know will likely attest to the fact that when the so-called outlaw country movement first took flight, it was Billy Joe Shaver who helped lead the charge. His album "Old Five and Dimers" remains an undisputed classic of the genre, the perfect prototype when it comes to hard-bitten narratives with a rowdy, rambunctious appeal. Likewise, no one questioned his credibility when he unabashedly ...
CD review - Everybody's Brother There's often a fine line between sin and salvation and, like most outlaws, Billy Joe Shaver has one foot in the honky tonk and one in the church pew. Shaver has long expressed the desire to record a "gospel" album and it's fitting...the same weathered voice that speaks convincingly of barrooms and broken hearts is also perfectly suited for singing the praises of Jesus. And it's not like religion is a little-traveled path for Shaver; he has typically included a spiritual ...


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