By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Corsicana born country music singer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver passed away today at the age of 81. According to Variety, Shaver died of a stroke while in care at Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco.

Billy Joe Shaver in 2007. – Courtesy photo (Wikipedia)

Shaver, born Aug. 16, 1939, was a pioneer in the “outlaw country” movement of the 1970s. His 1973 debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, was said to be created in response to country music’s commercialization at the time.

Shaver collaborated with several notable industry artists including Waylon Jennings (who used Shaver’s music on his own album, Honky Tonk Heroes), Elvis Presley, Charlie Daniels, and Nanci Griffith. Inspired by Shaver’s work, Bob Dylan has often covered “Old Five And Dimers Like Me” during his own concerts.

According to Rolling Stone, Willie Nelson once called Shaver “The greatest living songwriter.” Johnny Cash has also referred to Shaver as “My favorite songwriter.”

Shaver wrote a number of songs during his long 47-year career, releasing 17 studio albums, 4 compilation albums, 6 live albums, and 20 singles. Popular favorites from the artist’s discography include: “You Asked Me To”, “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me,” and “Live Forever.” On his 2002 Freedom’s Child album, he wrote a local-based piece called “Corsicana Daily Sun” based on his youth in town.

The Grammy Award-winning artist won several awards and recognitions throughout his career. In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Additionally, The Americana Music Association awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.

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