Outlaw country singer Billy Joe Shaver dies at 81
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Outlaw country singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, who wrote songs like “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 he died Wednesday in Texas following a stroke.
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.
Listen here to his version of “Georgia on a Fast Train”:
Shaver’s lyrics reflected his hardscrabble upbringing in Texas, where he lost part of two fingers while working at a lumber mill. He came to Nashville in 1968 and was signed as a writer to Bare’s publishing company.
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 and turn the maverick country artists into legends.
“There weren’t another other way to be/For lovable losers, no account boozers/And honky tonk heroes like me,” Shaver wrote in the title track.
Shaver wrote songs that were covered by Elvis Presley, Patty Loveless, George Jones, Tex Ritter, Tennessee Ernie Ford and John Anderson.