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Outlaw Country Music Pioneer Billy Joe Shaver Dead at Age 81

Outlaw country singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, whose songs included “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” and “Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” has died. He was 81.

His friend Connie Nelson said Shaver died Wednesday in Texas following a stroke.

“Another great Texas music icon is gone,” Dan Rather tweeted.

Earlier this week, country music legend Jerry Jeff Walker passed away.

“Billy Joe Shaver was a bona fide, certified, Lone Star original – a throwback to a far different time,” Rather continued.

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Born in Corsicana, Texas, Shaver was among the original group of outlaw country artists in the early ’70s, penning songs for Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall and Willie Nelson.

Shaver’s lyrics reflected his hardscrabble upbringing in Texas, where he lost part of two fingers while working at a lumber mill.

He came to Nashville in 1968 and was signed as a writer to Bare’s publishing company.

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His big break came when Jennings recorded several of Shaver’s songs for his 1973 album “Honky Tonk Heroes,” which helped popularize the outlaw country genre.

Shaver wrote songs that were covered by Elvis Presley, Patty Loveless, George Jones, Tex Ritter, Tennessee Ernie Ford and John Anderson.

Anderson had a No. 4 country hit with Shaver’s “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal,” and Johnny Rodriquez took Shaver’s song “I Couldn’t Be Me Without You” to No. 3 on the country chart.

Shaver wrote “Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me” about Nelson.

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