Whitey Shafer

Induction Year: 1989

Birth Name: Sanger D. Shafer

Birth Date: 10-24-1934

Place of Birth: Whitney, Texas

Sanger D. "Whitey" Shafer wrote significant country songs for greats including Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley and George Strait. His major hits tend to find characters dealing with regrets and hard losses, and conveying those regrets with language at once simple and eloquent. His #1 country hits include "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind" and "All My Ex's Live in Texas." "That's the Way Love Goes" —written with Frizzell — was a chart-topper for Johnny Rodriguez in 1974 and for Merle Haggard in 1984.

The son of gospel singers, Shafer grew up in Texas, listening to Western swing master Bob Wills and honky-tonk troubadour Ernest Tubb on the radio. As a teenager, he admired Frizzell's "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time," but his interest in music didn't immediately lead him into songwriting. He would not write his first composition until age 30.

After a stint in the Army, numerous club gigs and day jobs that involved everything from raising turkeys to digging ditches, Shafer moved to Nashville in 1967. He took carpentry work to pay the bills but also began writing with others including A. L. "Doodle" Owens and Dallas Frazier. He soon signed a recording contract with RCA Records and a publishing deal with Blue Crest Music (in the early 1970s, he shifted to Acuff-Rose Publications), and George Jones cut several of his songs, including "Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong," a Top 20 country hit in 1970.

Shafer's life changed when he worked up the nerve to contact Frizzell, who listened to a demo tape and recorded Shafer's "You, Babe" on the following day. Frizzell and Shafer became close friends and co-writers. A string of notable songs followed, and in 1974 Johnny Rodriguez took Shafer and Frizzell's "That's the Way Love Goes" to the top of the country chart. Shafer's songs were instrumental in the career of Moe Bandy, and George Strait had chart-topping successes with two Shafer songs, "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind." In 1989, Keith Whitley's version of Shafer's poignant "I Wonder Do You Think of Me" made its chart debut a month and a half after Whitley's untimely death. That song went to #1 on the country chart. Since 1990, Shafer's songs have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Lee Ann Womack, Shawn Colvin and others.

"All My Ex's Live in Texas"

(written with Lyndia Shafer)

George Strait1987 #1 country
 

"Bandy the Rodeo Clown"

(written with Lefty Frizzell)

Moe Bandy1975 #7 country

"Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind"

(written with Darlene Shafer)

George Strait1985 #1 country
 

"Dream Painter"

(written with Dallas Frazier)

Connie Smith1973 #23 country
 

"Honky Tonk Amnesia"

(written with Doodle Owens)

Moe Bandy1974 #24 country
Scott McQuaig1989 #56 country
 

"I Can't Get Over You to Save My Life"

(written with Lefty Frizzell)

Lefty Frizzell1973 #43 country
 

"I Just Started Hatin' Cheatin' Songs Today"

(written with Doodle Owens)

Moe Bandy1974 #17 country

"I Never Go Around Mirrors"

(written with Lefty Frizzell)

Lefty Frizzell1974 #25 country
Merle Haggard1976 
Willie Nelson1977 
Ronnie Sessions1978 #96 country
Keith Whitley1982 
Keith Whitley (remake)1988 
Dick Curless1995 
Trace Adkins1998 
Gene Watson2001 
Daryle Singletary2002 
Leona Williams2004 
Bradley Walker2006 
Mark Chesnutt2008 
 

"I Never Knew (What That Song Meant Before)"

Connie Smith1974 #13 country

"I Wonder Do You Think of Me"

Keith Whitley1989 #1 country
 

"It Was Always So Easy (To Find an Unhappy Woman)"

(written with Doodle Owens)

Moe Bandy1975 #7 country
 

"Lord Is That Me"

(written with Dallas Frazier)

Jack Greene1970 #16 country
 

"Lucky Arms"

(written with Lefty Frizzell)

Lefty Frizzell1974 #21 country
 

"Overnight Success"

George Strait1989 #8 country
 

"Soft Lights and Hard Country Music"

Moe Bandy1978 #13 country
 

"Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong"

(written with Dallas Frazier)

George Jones1970 #13 country

"That's The Way Love Goes"

(written with Lefty Frizzell)

Johnny Rodriguez1974 #1 country
Connie Smith1974 
Willie Nelson1977  
Merle Haggard1984 #1 country
Merle Haggard & Jewel1999 #56 country
Iris DeMent2000 
Anne Murray2002 
Buddy Miller2011 
 

"The Baptism of Jesse Taylor"

(written with Dallas Frazier)

Johnny Russell1974 #14 country
Oak Ridge Boys1974 
Tanya Tucker1974 
Connie Smith1974 
 

"The Birmingham Turnaround"

(written with Warren Robb)

Keith Whitley1988 
 

"You, Babe"

Lefty Frizzell1972 #59 country
Merle Haggard1988 #23 country

Whitey Shafer

Induction Year: 1989