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.