Billy Joe Shaver, the famous Texas music pioneer, who wrote songs for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, died Wednesday in Waco, Texas, from a stroke. For Elvis, Shaver wrote "You Asked Me To" and for Cash, Shaver penned "You Can't Beat Jesus Christ."
Billy Joe Shaver was born in Texas in 1939 and was raised by his mother, Victory Watson Shaver. He would later join U.S. Navy on his seventeenth birthday, which significantly impacted his professional life as a song-writer. Upon his discharge from the navy, he worked a couple of dead-end jobs.
Billy Joe Shaver's rise to fame:
Billy Joe lost a better part of his two fingers at one such job and contracted a severe infection. He eventually recovered from it and taught himself to play an acoustic guitar without those missing fingers. He was one of the rare singers who would perfectly play a song on his guitar with just two fingers.
Billy Joe first found a job as a songwriter following the birth of his son. His earlier work came to the attention of Waylon Jennings, who used most of his songs in his album, Honky Tonk Heroes. He then got in touch with Elvis Presley and Kris Kristofferson, who also started to record his songs.
Billy Joe Shaver's notable songs:
Although he could never gain widespread recognition as a singer, Billy Joe Shaver collaborated with several notable rock and country music musicians like Willie Nelson, Al Kooper, Dickey Betts, Charlie Daniels, and Chuck Leavell.
Billy Joe Shaver's debut album Old Five and Dimers Like Me was released in 1973 and had songs from artists like Waylon Jennings and David Allan Coe. He is also noted for his hit song "Live Forever," which he penned with his son Eddy.
Shaver's 2007 album country Everybody's Brother fetched him a Grammy-nomination. Most of the album's songs are duets with artists such as Kris, Tanya Tucker, and Johnny Cash.
In 2019, the Academy of Country Music honored Billy Joe Shaver, the Poet's Award for his extraordinary achievement s in songwriting.
Billy Joe Shaver's controversy:
The famous songwriter also had a trouble past. In 2007, Billy shot a man named Billy Bryant Coker in the face with a handgun. Following this, two arrest warrants were issued against him on charges of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm in a prohibited place.
During an interview with NPR, Shaver talked about shooting Coker. As per the songwriter, Billy was a bully, and he "hit him right between a mother and a f***r. That was the end of that. He dropped his weapons and said, 'I'm sorry.' And I said, 'Well if you had said that inside, there would have been no problem.'"
Tribute for Billy Joe Shaver:
Following Billy Joe Shaver's death, several noted musicians took to Twitter to share their condolences. Grammy-Award winning singer Travis Tritt wrote that Billy's stories were captivating, and it was him who had "opened for me on one of my early tours."
Check out a couple of more tributes for the famous songwriter:
Rest In Peace to a country music legend. Billy Joe Shaver will live in our hearts and souls forever.