Country music songwriter Billy Joe Shaver dies after suffering from stroke

Country music songwriter Billy Joe Shaver dies after suffering from stroke

10/28/2020

Songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, famed for his contribution to the outlaw country music scene, has died aged 81.

The lyricist died in Waco, Texas, on Wednesday after suffering from a massive stroke.

Shaver's friend Connie Nelson confirmed his passing in a statement shared with Rolling Stone.

Some of his most beloved songs include Honky Tonk Heroes, Georgia on a Fast Train, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, and Live Forever.

In a testament to his skill as a songwriter, country star Willie Nelson once called him "the greatest living songwriter".

Over the course of his career, Shaver wrote music for the likes of Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley.

Born in Texas, Shaver's love for music started during childhood, when he would accompany his mother to her job at a local nightclub.

After time spent in the US Navy and working at a lumbermill, Shaver started apprenticing for songwriter Harlan Howard.

Struggling at first to make it as a songwriter, Kris Kristofferson gave him his first break, and his debut album Old Five and Dimers Like Me was released that year.

In the years that followed, he grew to acclaim as one of the most successful outlaw country music songwriters of all time.

Shaver was arrested in 2007 on charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in a prohibited place, but was found not guilty three years later.

Outside of music, Shaver also had minor roles in several films, transferring his talent to the big screen in flicks The Apostle and The Wendell Baker Story.

Despite a hugely successful career in music, Shaver suffered heartbreak throughout his life, with the death of his wife Brenda in 1999.

Later, he mourned the passing of his son Eddy, who died at the age of 38 after suffering a heroin overdose on New Years' Eve in 2000.

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