Billy Joe Shaver

Induction Year: 2004

Birth Name: Billy Joe Shaver

Birth Date: 08-16-1939

Place of Birth: Corsicana, Texas

Born in Corsicana, Texas, and raised by a grandmother named Victory, Billy Joe Shaver became one of country music's brilliant enigmas. A bare-knuckled poet whose songs often chronicled his rowdy times, Shaver assessed himself in lines like, "Got a good Christian raisin' and an eighth grade education/Ain't no need in y'all a-treatin' me this way," and "There's one in every crowd, for crying out loud/Why was it always turning out to be me." Shaver was beloved by some of the central figures of country music's twentieth century, including Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Tom T. Hall, the latter of whom wrote the liner notes to Shaver's 1973 debut, Old Five and Dimers Like Me: "If the world is God's television set, with which he entertains himself, Billy Joe Shaver is on Monday mornings at 3:00."

After a hardscrabble upbringing and a lumber-mill job that cost him two fingers on his right hand, Shaver hitchhiked to Nashville in the back of a cantaloupe truck and eventually signed a publishing deal with Bobby Bare, who recorded some of his songs and helped him get a Music City foothold. In 1973, Waylon Jennings recorded Honky Tonk Heroes, an album that featured nine Shaver songs and established him as a songwriter to be reckoned with. Many others have since recorded his compositions, including Cash, Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Patty Loveless, George Jones, Tex Ritter, Tennessee Ernie Ford and John Anderson, who had a #4 country hit in 1981 with Shaver's oft-covered "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal."

Shaver was a prolific recording artist, and, while his own albums never topped country charts, he was much lauded by critics. His 1993 album Tramp on Your Street was a highly praised collaboration with his son Eddy, who played lead guitar and brought an amped-up electric sound to Shaver's work for the rest of the decade. Their albums together were released under their last name alone: Shaver. While he had country hits and earned songwriting awards for "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal," "I Couldn't Be Me Without You (a #3 hit for Johnny Rodriguez) and "You Asked Me To" (a Top 10 hit for Jennings in 1973), Shaver's album cuts like "Black Rose," "Live Forever," "Georgia on a Fast Train" and "Old Five and Dimers Like Me" were equally well-known. Shaver is a Texas Music Hall of Famer and the winner of the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.

"Ain't No God in Mexico"

Waylon Jennings1973 

"Black Rose"

Waylon Jennings1973 
Willie Nelson1985 
Scott Walker1997 
Rodney Harden2003 
Mark Chesnutt2010 

"Bottom Dollar"

(written with Danny Finley)

Jerry Lee Lewis1972 
Billy Joe Shaver1973 
Mike Auldridge1974 
Billy Paul1997 
Robert Earl Keen2005 

"Good Christian Soldier"

(written with Bobby Bare)

Bobby Bare1971 
Kris Kristofferson1971 

"Honky Tonk Heroes"

Waylon Jennings1973 
Willie Nelson1976 
Billy Joe Shaver1977 
Mark Chesnutt2004 

"I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train"

Billy Joe Shaver1973 
Commander Cody1975 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1976 
Johnny Cash1982 
Willie Nelson1985 
Cory Morrow2001 
Confederate Railroad2007 

"I Couldn't Be Me Without You"

Johnny Rodriguez1976 #3 country

"I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal"

Billy Joe Shaver1981 
John Anderson1981 #4 country
Stonewall Jackson1981 
Johnny Cash1982 
Roy Bookbinder1998 
Willie Nelson2001 
The Lewis Family2002 
Jeff & Sheri Easter2007 
Mark Stuart2009 
Carol Channing2010 
Widespread Panic2010 

"If I Give My Soul"

Marty Stuart1994 
Tom Jones2010 

"Jesus Was Our Savior (Cotton Was Our King)"

Johnny Cash1974 

"Live Forever"

(written with Eddy Shaver)

The Highwaymen1995 
Pat Green2001 
Cory Morrow2003 
Billy Joe Shaver2005 
Dale Ann Bradley2006 
Laurie Lewis2006 
Robert Duvall2010 
Joe Ely2011 

"Low Down Freedom"

Billy Joe Shaver1973 
Waylon Jennings1973 

"Old Five and Dimers Like Me"

Billy Joe Shaver1973 
Tom T. Hall1973 
Waylon Jennings1973 
Willie Nelson1985 
Jerry Jeff Walker1991 
Emmylou Harris2008 


(written with Hillman Hall)

Waylon Jennings1973 

"Ride Me Down Easy"

Bobby Bare1973 #11 country
Waylon Jennings1973 
Jerry Lee Lewis1973 
Billy Joe Shaver1975 
David Allan Coe1977 
The Seldom Scene1978 
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis2005 

"Sweet Mama"

The Allman Brothers Band1975 

"Tramp on Your Street"

George Jones2001 

"When the Fallen Angels Fly"

Patty Loveless1994 

"Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me"

Tom T. Hall1972 
Billy Joe Shaver1973 
Waylon Jennings1973 
Chris LeDoux1974 
Tex Ritter1976 
Dan Crary1993 

"You Asked Me To"

(written with Waylon Jennings)

Waylon Jennings1973 #8 country
Elvis Presley1975 
Billy Joe Shaver1977 
Jack Clement1978 
John Hartford1987 
Nanci Griffith2003 
Alison Krauss2003 
Dale Watson2005 

Billy Joe Shaver

Induction Year: 2004