Willie Nelson once called Shaver ‘the greatest living songwriter’.
- Billy Joe Shaver is reported to have suffered a massive stroke at Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco, Texas
- Shaver rose to acclaim in 1973 with his debut album, ‘Old Five and Dimers Like Me’
- He was referred to as part of the ‘outlaw country’ movement of the 1970s along with figures like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
- Nelson once called him ‘the greatest living songwriter’
- In 2000, the singer’s son, Eddy Shaver, died from a heroin overdose
- Shaver was married five times to two women
- He was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006
Country music singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, whom Willie Nelson once called ‘the greatest living songwriter,’ died Wednesday in his native Texas at the age of 81.
Shaver is reported to suffered a massive stroke at Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco, Texas.
Shaver rose to acclaim in 1973 with his debut album, ‘Old Five and Dimers Like Me,’ and was often referred to as part of the ‘outlaw country’ movement of the 1970s along with figures like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, both of whom recorded his songs.
Jennings, in fact, recorded 10 songs of Shaver’s on one album alone, ‘Honky Tonk Heroes,’ released the same year as Shaver’s debut.
His own recording career encompassed 17 studio albums, the last of which was 2014’s ‘Long in the Tooth.’ ‘Shaver´s always been a tough guy making trouble on the edges of a Nashville that values slickness,’ Q magazine wrote at the time.
Shaver made an appearance in Robert Duvall’s 1996 film ‘The Apostle.’ In 2004, a documentary about Shaver, ‘A Portrait of Billy Joe,’ was released.
In addition to Nelson and Jennings, Shaver’s songs were also recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, David Allan Coe, Patty Loveless, Tom T Hall, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Paycheck.
His personal life was the stuff of lore and legend. He wed and divorced the same woman, Brenda Tindell, three times. He also married Wanda Lynn Canady on two occasions, with the last marriage ending in an annulment, Variety reports.
In 2000, Shaver suffered a devastating loss when his son, Eddy Shaver, died from a heroin overdose.
He had a heart attack on stage. In 2007, he was involved in a news-making shooting incident outside a bar in Lorena, Texas. He was acquitted after claiming self-defense and later said of the incident, ‘Hit him right between the mother and the f-er. Fixed him right up.’
Shaver shared a glimpse into his life with the 2005 memoir, ‘Honky Tonk Hero.’ He was born in Corsicana, Texas, and grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry.
Shaver didn’t finish high school, taking up hitchhiking and driving a truck. As a young man, he lost pieces of three of his fingers in a sawmill accident.
“When I cut my fingers off, I made a deal with God……..I said “If you get me out of this, I will go on and do what I am supposed to do.”Billy Joe Shaver
Bob Dylan referenced him in a latter-day lyric, singing ‘I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver and I´m reading James Joyce’ in the 2009 song ‘I Feel a Change Comin´ On.’
Shaver was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. The following year he received his lone Grammy nomination, in the best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album category for ‘Everybody’s Brother.’
The singer-songwriter made a 2018 appearance at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for an exhibit that featured his ‘Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s’. He was given the Poets Award in 2019 from the Academy of County Music.
“I know the power of words……I figure they’d be here forever. I’m hoping a lot of them are gonna make it………I´ll bop till I drop.”Billy Joe Shaver