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.
Another great Texas music icon is gone. Billy Joe Shaver was a bona fide, certified, Lone Star original – a throwback to a far different time. This was echoed in the music he wrote and performed over a long and very adventurous life. https://t.co/boaCjRLl3w
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) October 28, 2020
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.
Godspeed Billy Joe Shaver. Thank you for the damn-fine music you made and hellacrazy stories you told. Grateful I got to hear both in person. Rest In Peace.
— Dagen McDowell (@dagenmcdowell) October 28, 2020
He came to Nashville in 1968 and was signed as a writer to Bare’s publishing company.
Oh no! Man BJS was so good. I have Like 15 play lists and he’s in 10 of em. Looks like his song “live forever” has come true. ❤️RT @SIRIUSXM: Rest in peace to Outlaw Country legend Billy Joe Shaver, who has died at the age of 81. https://t.co/sXz31kfXfd pic.twitter.com/zvfsT8jX1n
— Larry The Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry) October 28, 2020
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.
RIP Billy Joe Shaver. One of the best country songwriters ever, one of the best Texas writers ever, the maker of one of the best country live albums ever, and the wildest dude I ever met. Shot a guy and got Willie Nelson as a character reference. King. https://t.co/pGEKXrwAzs
— Kaleb Horton (@kalebhorton) October 28, 2020
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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