Outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver has died

The 81-year-old suffered a stroke.

Outlaw country artist and acclaimed singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver has died. He was 81 years old.

Per the Associated Press, Shaver died on Wednesday (October 28) in Texas after suffering a stroke, his friend Connie Nelson said.

The Corsicana, Texas native was part of the original group of artists pioneering outlaw country, alongside Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and more. He moved to Nashville in 1968 and signed to artist Bobby Bare’s publishing company as a songwriter.


In 1973, Shaver released his debut album Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which was produced by Kristofferson. In that same year, Jennings recorded ten of Shaver’s songs on the album Honky Tonk Heroes.

Shaver would go on to have his songs recorded by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Nelson and many more. He also released his own studio albums, the latest being 2014’s Long in the Tooth.

Shaver’s outlaw reputation was bolstered by his colorful life and exploits: before he was a musician, he lost two fingers while working at a lumber mill; married and divorced the same woman three times; had a heart attack on stage; and at the age of 70 was acquitted of aggravated assault in the 2007 shooting of a man at a Waco bar.


Margo Price alluded to Shaver’s eventful life in a lengthy note she penned in remembrance. “He was one of the only people that really lived the life of an outlaw,” she wrote. “I don’t drink bourbon anymore but I’m havin a little nip for Billy tonight.”

Read her note and other tributes from fellow artists to Shaver here:

RIP, Billy Joe Shaver. Listen to essential songs from his extensive canon here:

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