Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver
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Billy Joe Shaver never became a household name, but his songs -- including "Good Christian Soldier," "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me," and "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train" -- became country standards during the '70s and his reputation among musicians and critics didn't diminish during the ensuing decades. One of the best synopses of Shaver's upbringing is his own song, "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train." When he sings, "my grandma's old-age pension is the reason that I'm standing here today," he ain't kidding. The "good Christian raising" and "eighth grade education" -- not to mention being abandoned by his parents shortly after being born, working on his uncles' farms instead of going to high school, and losing part of his fingers during a job at a sawmill -- are all part of his life story. "I got all my country learning," he sings, "picking cotton, raising hell, and bailing hay." Shaver did a quick turn in the Navy and worked a series of nowhere jobs (including the one in the sawmill) before trying his luck in Nashville. After several back and forth trips between Texas and Tennessee that gained him no response, he appeared one day in 1968 in Bobby Bare's Nashville office, where he convinced Bare to listen to him play. Bare ended up giving him a writing job. Shaver recorded one song for Mercury, "Chicken on the Ground," which went nowhere, but soon his songs began to see the light thanks to Kris Kristofferson ("Good Christian Soldier"), Tom T. Hall ("Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me"), Bare ("Ride Me Down Easy"), and later, the Allman Brothers ("Sweet Mama") and Elvis Presley ("You Asked Me To"). Shaver's real breakthrough, though, came in 1973 when Waylon Jennings recorded an album composed almost entirely of Shaver's songs, Honky Tonk Heroes -- largely considered the first true "outlaw" album. Shaver's debut album was Old Five and Dimers Like Me, produced by Kristofferson and released by Monument (Kristofferson's label) in 1973. Along with the title track, it contained the now-classic Shaver songs "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me" and the aforementioned "Georgia on a Fast Train." Shaver switched to MGM a year later, but no album materialized. "Raising hell" was, as he had sung, part of his lifestyle at the time, and it kept him out of sight for a couple years. In 1976 Shaver resurfaced with When I Get My Wings on Capricorn, and followed it up a year later with Gypsy Boy. In 1978 Johnny Cash recorded "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day)," a song Shaver wrote just after he chose to give up drugs and booze and turned to God for help. Religious references do crop up his songs (including "Chunk of Coal"), but they never dominate the emotions or get in the way of the earthy rhythms and melodies. Shaver switched labels again, this time to Columbia, in 1980, and recorded three more albums during the next decade: I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal, Billy Joe Shaver, and Salt of the Earth. The latter was produced by Shaver with his son, Eddy, who has played on every Billy Joe record since Old Chunk of Coal (he also toured in Dwight Yoakam's band in the 1980s). After a few more years out of the spotlight, Billy Joe returned once again in 1993, this time recording under the name Shaver. Tramp on Your Street, released on Zoo/Praxis, featured Eddy on lead guitar and Billy Joe's own raspy but lovable voice, and coming out during a time when hunky hat acts where the new flavor in Nashville, it was quickly recognized as one of the strongest and hardest country records to hit the shelves in many years. Shaver toured regularly over the next couple of years and recorded a live album for Zoo, Unshaven, in 1995, but was dropped by the label a year later. Victory followed on the New West label in 1998, with Electric Shaver appearing a year later. The rock-oriented Earth Rolls On appeared in spring 2001. His next four albums, Freedom's Child (2002), the emotional Billy and the Kid (which saw Shaver singing songs written by his late son, Eddy Shaver) (2004), Real Deal (2005), and Everybody's Brother (2007), were all released on the Compadre label. 2007 also saw the release of Storyteller, a live set recorded in 1992, on Sugar Hill Records.
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07/13/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver recovering after minor heart surgery - Read More
06/22/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver Brings the Texas Out California Way - Read More
06/15/2010 - Country music outlaw Billy Joe Shaver uses music as his therapy - Read More
06/15/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver Enters Plea In Firearms Case  - Read More
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01/01/2007 - Bily Joe Shaver Q&A - Read More
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Average Rating : 4.6              Total Reviews: 48

Billy Joe Shaver  01/06/2009            
A legend
Billy Joe Shaver  12/19/2008            
J. Crawford
Love ya man!
Billy Joe Shaver  12/19/2008            
J. Crawford
Love ya man!
Billy Joe Shaver  12/11/2008            
God Bless Billy Joe Shaver. He is the best songwriter around. If it wasn't for him there would be no Jackson Taylor, Jarrod Birmingham, or Jason Boland. Billy Joe is one of the nicest person that you will ever meet..
Billy Joe Shaver  08/23/2008            
Shaver Fan
it's no secret Billy Joe's been around a long time. Waylon did a whole album of Billy Joe's creations and it is awesome. I saw Billy Joe on a talk show one time in the 80's I think,maybe the 70's and he told a story about coming out of a deep depression and wrote that song I'm just an old chunk of coal but I'm gonna be a diamond someday. Well Billy you did it. You shine. You are one awesome individual. Thanks from my heart.
Billy Joe Shaver  05/07/2008            
Charlie Mack ( First outta the Limo )
Eddy Shaver is without a doubt one of the best Texas guitarists to ever live. This album is testament to his legacy. Buy 2, one for you and one for your best friend.
Billy Joe Shaver  12/15/2007            
Jackson Taylor
Billy Joe is the best song writer ever;I will stand on Steve Earle's coffee table in my Stacy Adams and tell him so. I think he might agree. God Bless you Billy.
Billy Joe Shaver  12/07/2007            
Tonya Jean
Kicks Everybodys ass! I'm still praying for you Billie Joe. Please come back to Milledgeville
Billy Joe Shaver  11/17/2007            
this poop is scratching awesome god damn it.
Billy Joe Shaver  10/26/2007            
Dr. Quinn
he's the man !
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