Outlaw Country Pioneer Billy Joe Shaver Dead At 81


Outlaw country pioneer Billy Joe Shaver has died at the age of 81.

Shaver reportedly passed away at his home in Waco, Texas after suffering a stroke on Wednesday, his friend, Connie Nelson, confirmed to Rolling Stone.

Shaver is best known for his own solo hits, 'Honky Tonk Heroes,' 'Georgia on a Fast Train,' 'Old Five and Dimers Like Me,' and 'Live Forever,' as well as writing songs recorded by numerous legendary performers including Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings, who used nine of Shaver's songs on his 1973 breakthrough album 'Honky Tonk Heroes.'

Nelson, who also collaborated in duets with his longtime friend, referred to Shaver as "the greatest living songwriter" in 2010, according to Rolling Stone.

Shaver famously lived out the outlaw songs he penned, which included being charged with shooting a man in the face at a bar near his home in Waco in 2007. The singer-songwriter was found not guilty and turned the incident and trial into the song, 'Wacko From Waco.'

Shaver, a Texas native, began a friendship with fellow singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt in Houston, which led him to Nashville, where he began an apprenticeship for songwriter Harlan Howard and later worked for singer-songwriter Bobby Bare.

“Billy Joe was already there before anybody was talking about an outlaw movement,” said fellow outlaw legend and early fan Steve Earle in 2010. “And I come from the generation that moved to Nashville because people started talking about an outlaw movement.”

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