While Billy Joe Shaver’s own records did not top the charts, his influence on the genre is beyond compare. After all, he’s one of the singer-songwriters whose unpretentious and poignant lyrics helped inspire the outlaw movement in country music.
What’s even interesting is that he brought outlaw into his way of life that others only sang about. Get to know more about Billy Joe Shaver with these exciting facts about him.
1. He’s a native of Corsicana, Texas.
Born Billy Joe Shaver on August 16, 1939, the country legend had a difficult early life. Despite being a promising student, he quit school and picked cotton for a while. He was raised by his grandmother after his abusive father abandoned him and his mother even before he was born.
2. His songs were recorded by various country legends.
His music was actually recorded by Johnny Cash, who said Shaver is his favorite songwriter, as well as Elvis Presley, David Allan Coe, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. In the 1970s, Billy Joe Shaver songs became an essential part of the genre’s outlaw movement. In fact, Shaver wrote ten out of the eleven songs released on Waylon Jennings‘ breakthrough album, Honky Tonk Heroes.
3. He lost part of three fingers in a sawmill accident.
When he was 21, Shaver took a job at a lumber mill to make ends meet. Unfortunately, his right hand caught in the machinery, and Shaver lost the index and middle fingers as well as a part of his third finger. He had to relearn how to play the guitar without those missing fingers.
4. He married and divorced the same woman three times.
In 1959, Shaver married Brenda Joyce Tindell. They were blessed with a son, Eddy Shaver – who would later become one of the most lauded guitarists in country music. Over the years, the couple married and divorced twice. Shaver later married another woman, Wanda Lynn Canady, twice, the second time after an annulment.
5. He had a heart attack on stage.
While performing at the historic Gruene Hall in Texas, Shaver had a heart attack right on the stage. “I had a heart attack at the oldest Honky Tonk in Texas,” Shaver said. “I figured, well, hey, this is a great place to die.”
6. He lost his only son to a heroin overdose.
In 2000, tragedy struck Shaver when his son died – just a year after his wife and mother both died of cancer.
7. He once shot a man in the face.
In 2007, Shaver shot a man named Billy Coker outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon in Lorena, Texas. The country artist stood trial for the shooting, where he pleaded self-defense against a violent, bigger, and stronger man. After a three-day trial, Shaver was found not guilty on charges of aggravated assault.
Truly, Billy Joe Shaver lived a life as colorful as the songs he wrote.
billy joe shaver