Billy Joe Shaver: Through The Years - A look back

» 1939   Billy Joe Shaver is born and is raised by his grandmother in Corsicana, Texas while his mother works in a Waco, Texas honky-tonk.  Moves back in with parents at age 12, until joining the Navy on his 17th birthday, the same year he meets Elvis Presley. (Elvis recorded Shaver’s “You Asked Me To” three times, and died on Shaver’s birthday — August 16.)

» 1959   Honorably discharged from Navy for fighting an off-duty Naval officer.  Shaver was a member of the Navy boxing team.

» 1960   Loses parts of two fingers in a sawmill accident at age 21.

» 1960   Marries Brenda Joyce Tindell. They divorce in 1966. Remarry in 1968. Divorce again in 1986. And marry for a third
time in 1997.

» 1962   Shaver’s only child, John Edwin “Eddy” Shaver, is born.

» 1966   After a year of performing with Townes Van Zandt at the Old Quarter Café in Galveston, Texas, Shaver decides to pursue songwriting.  His wife doesn’t support his decision and files for divorce.  Shaver hitchhikes to Nashville, riding most of the way on a Cantaloupe truck.

» 1968   Hired by recording artist Bobby Bare as a staff songwriter for $50 a week.  Shaver lives in Bare’s publishing office and bathes in a #3 washtub.  Bare records more than 20 Shaver songs, including “Ride Me Down Easy” — a #1 hit in Cashbox magazine (Top 5 Billboard) in 1970.

» 1973   One day before following through on his decision to leave Nashville and give up a career in music, Shaver is discovered by Kris Kristofferson, who soon produces Shaver’s debut, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, for Monument Records. Kristofferson later covers several Shaver tunes including “Old Christian Soldier” — which is the first song Kristofferson records that is not self-penned.

» 1973   Waylon Jennings records ten of Shaver’s songs on Honky-Tonk Heroes.  It is regarded as the definitive album of the Outlaw Country movement and has sold more than one million copies.

» 1976   Shaver is invited to participate in the compilation record Wanted! The Outlaws, which includes Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Jessi Colter. Shaver’s wife asks him not to participate in the record, wanting him to avoid the “outlaw” persona. That album quickly becomes Country music’s first platinum record.  Notably, it includes a Shaver-penned song, “Honky-tonk Hero.”

» 1981   John Anderson records Shaver’s “Old Chunk of Coal,” BMI’s most performed song that year, reaching #4 in Billboard.

» 1987   Shaver hijacks a horse from a nearby ranch in the middle of Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Carl’s Corner, Texas, and rides it bareback across a stage during Moe Bandy’s performance (safely returning the horse to the pasture).

» 1993   Teams up with son Eddy to form band named Shaver; they record Tramp On Your Street — Shaver’s highest selling record (100k units). 

» 1994   Patty Loveless version of Shaver’s “When Fallen Angels Fly” is named CMA’s Record of the Year and becomes a Gold record.

» 1996   Shaver makes his film debut as a principal character in Robert Duvall’s film The Apostle.

» 1999   His mother Victory Shaver passes away from cancer on June 20.

» 1999   Brenda loses her fight with cancer just over a month later, on July 30.

» 2000   His son Eddy dies of a drug overdose on December 31.

» 2001  Suffers a near fatal heart attack on July 4 while performing at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas.

» 2001   Shaver releases Freedom’s Child on Compadre Records, his first solo record in more than 15 years.

» 2002   Receives the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, his first award.

» 2004   The bio-documentary A Portrait of Billy Joe, produced by Robert Duvall and wife Luciana Pedraza, debuts at the SXSW Film Festival.

» 2004   Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame with his buddy Guy Clark.

» 2005  Self-penned autobiography Honky Tonk Hero published by the U of Texas Press.

» 2006   Serves as “spiritual advisor” for his pal Kinky Friedman’s Texas gubernatorial campaign.

» 2006   Marries Wanda Lynn Canady.  Divorces and remarries in 2007, and currently finalizing a second divorce. 

» 2007   In the same day: Surrenders to authorities and is released on bail for his involvement in a shooting during a bar fight; his Greatest Hits album comes out and Shaver appears at a promotional record-signing event.

» 2007   Compadre Records releases Shaver’s gospel-flavored Everybody’s Brother, produced by John Carter Cash and featuring Kris Kristofferson, John Anderson, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Cash and Marty Stuart.
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Billy Joe Shaver - Everybody’s Brother
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