Billy Joe Shaver
of Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index | Navarro County Hall of Fame


Cowpunk's new outlaw
Corpus Christi Caller Times
Friday, July 27, 2001

Fans bring scuffed boots, tattoos, mosh-pit mentality to jam with Billy Joe Shaver

By Brendan Walsh

'Song writing is the cheapest form of psychiatry there is,' says Billy Joe Shaver, who will play at the Executive Surf Club Saturday night. The concert comes almost two years to the day after the death of his wife, to whom he was married on three different occasions. Shaver's son Eddy died of a heroin overdose last New Year's Eve.

Last October, some of the most enthusiastic revelers atan Executive Surf Club concert were five young males, covered with tattoos and sporting mohawks. As the band showcased music from its album "Risin' Outlaw," the audience started a mosh pit in front of the stage.

The performer the motley crew had come to see wasn't the latest rap-metal fusionist, a three-chord punk band or veteran hard rockers. It was a country act: the rockabilly revivalist Hank Williams III, grandson of one of country's first big names and the son of one of Nashville's most popular acts.

Nothing new

Seeing those kids - sometimes referred to as cowpunks - at that type of show was nothing new for Casey Lain, talent booker at the Surf Club. He estimates that insurgent country acts like Two Tons of Steel, Matt Hole & The Hot Rod Gang and Robert Earl Keen attract an audience that some would find surprisingly young and hip, with nearly half younger than 21.

Lain expects to see lots of young people when Billy Joe Shaver plays his club Saturday night.

Shaver, 61, grew up in Corsicana. After a troubled youth, a stint in the Navy, and a host of blue-collar jobs, Shaver become a successful songwriter, penning hits for everyone from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson and The Allman Brothers Band.

The timing for Shaver's new record, "The Earth Rolls On," couldn't be better, according to Chris O'Brien, a DJ and promotions director for KFTX-FM/97.5.

"High school and college kids are catching on to it huge," O'Briencq said. "It's almost a new scene."

Cowpunks - kids with tattoos, beat-up straw hats, scuffed boots and faded western shirts - wasn't a clique when O'Brien was in high school, but it is now.

Another change both Casey, 25, and O'Brien, 21, have observed in others and themselves is former fans of punk rock tuning into what's popularly labeled as alternative country. "I swore up and down a few years ago that I'd never listen to country, but that's pretty much everything in my CD rack now," Casey said.

Classic punk rock and alt-country music share many similarities. Both were conceived as an alternative to popular music - the glam rock and disco of the late '70s and the polished Nashville sound of Garth Brooks and the like.

Record acclaimed

Shaver has received nearly unanimous critical acclaim for his new record, from diverse sources like the Wall Street Journal and The (Nashville) Tennessean.

Shaver's son Eddy, who played lead guitar and sang a duet with his father on the album, didn't live long enough to hear the critics' praise. He died of a heroin overdose last New Year's Eve.

Shaver, who has battled his own alcohol and drug problems over the years, knows that his album may have received more attention because of Eddy's death, but thinks "we'd a gotten a lot more if he had lived. 'Blood Is Thicker Than Water (the duet) would have been one of my biggest hits of all time if Eddy had lived." Without his son, Shaver can't perform the song at concerts.

8/11/2002 Shaver readies to return home for performance

From Staff Reports

Legendary Texas Singer- Songwriter Billy Joe Shaver brings his brand of country music to the Palace Theater and Corsicana, his hometown, Saturday, August 17.

Shaver is perhaps better known as a songwriter than a singer. The Waylon Jennings' 1973 album titled "Honky Tonk Heroes" contained nine Billy Joe Shaver songs. The album is regarded by many as a historical turning point in the country music industry. The recording also marked the beginning of Waylon Jennings' enormous popularity.

The late Waylon Jennings is just one of many famous artists to record Shaver songs. The list includes Willie Nelson, Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Patti Loveless, and Elvis Presley.

Born in Emhouse on Aug. 16, 1939, Shaver says Corsicana is his home because as he says, "I got tired of explaining that I said in Emhouse, not in a henhouse."

After several attempts to get his music career off the ground and failing each time, Billy Joe returned to Nashville and went to the office of Bobby Bare who agreed to listen to one of his songs. After that, he listed to more of the songs and quickly hired the then unknown Billy Joe Shaver to write songs for his publishing firm, Return Music Company. "Ride Me Down Easy," a song written by Billy Joe, became Bobby Bare's first number one hit.

Billy Joe's own career as a recording artist began in earnest in 1972 when he was invited to play at the Dripping Springs Reunion near Austin, Texas. This is the event that is considered by many as the fountainhead of the "Outlaw Movement" in country music. It was also the event at which Billy Joe Shaver made his first appearance in front of a large audience. One of the songs he sang was "Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me."

Throughout his entire life, Billy Joe Shaver has had to deal with seemingly insurmountable circumstances, and he has always triumphed over them. The loss of his only child, Eddy, on Dec.31, 2000, has been the hardest one to overcome. Billy Joe and Eddy worked onstage together for over twenty years. Their relationship was sometimes stretched thin by the stress of daily living, but together they have given the world some of the very best music in their genre. Shaver also lost his wife and mother to cancer in 1999 within a month of each other.

On Feb. 7, 2001, the Texas House of Representatives adopted a resolution "to honor renowned Texas singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, for his songs that have earned him a special place in the hearts of country music lovers everywhere."

Corsicanans will have an opportunity to see and hear their native son on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre.

Also included in the show will be popular local entertainer, Byron Haynie, who will be the opening act.

Tickets are priced from $15 to $25 and can be ordered through the box office at (903) 874-7792 or at the Palace office at the Chamber of Commerce at 120 North 12th Street.

8/11/2002 LEAH DILL BLACKARD: Palace Theatre will host hometown favorite Shaver

Saturday night, August 17, will be a perfect night to enjoy a concert. The Palace Theatre will once again present a night of great music.

Just in time to kick off fall, the Palace Theatre will present the legendary Billy Joe Shaver. This will give you an opportunity to enjoy a fabulous concert and see the nearly completed Palace Theatre.

This Corsicana native is a world-renowned singer/songwriter who spent the first 11 years of his life right here in Corsicana before he left for Waco. Billy Joe Shaver's life reads like a country song: worked hard, didn't have much, but finally succeeded in becoming one of the best-known songwriters around.

Shaver has written for some of the best including Kris Kristofferson, George Jones and Waylon Jennings. Kristofferson produced his 1973 debut album, "Old Five and Dimers Like Me." Waylon Jennings even cut an album of all Shaver's songs.

Shaver was born in Corsicana in 1939 and started his career early. After many trips to Nashville and many opportunities he finally met the producers that made a difference.

Billy Joe's albums and songs are numerous. You will hardly ever hear Willie Nelson perform without singing Billy Joe's "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train." Elvis recorded "You Asked Me To" and Waylon recorded the great "Honky Tonk Heroes."

Billy Joe Shaver has become even bigger in the past few years with the newfound "Texas Country" craze. The young generations in America have embraced the Pat Greens, Willie Nelsons, and now Billy Joe Shaver, the god of Texas songwriting.

Saturday night will be a great night to get out and hear a Texas legend. Most of the songs will be your favorites and you will be tapping your toes the minute the curtain draws.

This concert is a benefit for the restoration of the Palace Theatre. If you haven't seen the building lately, you will be amazed at the progress. The marquee is up and the lobby is almost complete, so bring a friend and enjoy a night of fun music by this Corsicana native.

Tickets are available at the Palace box office at 874-7792 or at the Navarro Council of the Arts at 872-5411. Tickets are $25, $20, and $15 all proceeds will benefit the Palace Theatre.


Originally published in the Corsicana Daily Sun
Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun || Articles Index

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