Travis Tritt Mourns Loss of Billy Joe Shaver

by Matthew Wilson

Travis Tritt is mourning the loss of country singer and friend Billy Joe Shaver. The songwriter died on Wednesday, Oct. 28 after recently having a stroke. Shaver was 81-years-old.

Shaver wrote several iconic songs for Waylon Jennings, who was a mentor and father figure of Tritt. In his tweet, Tritt also revealed that Shaver opened for him early in his career. The country singer offered his thoughts to Shaver’s family.

“I’m saddened to learn that Billy Joe Shaver has passed away,” Tritt wrote in the tweet. “Billy Joe opened for me on one of my early tours and was always amazing. His stories were captivating. He will be sorely missed. My condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.”

It’s been a rough few weeks for fans of outlaw country. On Oct. 24, Jerry Jeff Walker passed away at age 78. Walker was famous for his prolific writing within the genre and for his iconic song “Mr. Bojangles.”

Billy Joe Shaver Had a Decades-Long Career

Shaver was born in Corsicana, Texas in 1939. His mother raised him by herself. Growing up, Shaver listened to the Grand Ole Opry radio show and dreamed of being a country singer. He dropped out of school, and after a stint in the Navy, hitch-hiked across the country.

Shaver has had his health scares across the years. As a young man, he lost parts of three fingers in an accident at a sawmill. In 2003, he also suffered a heart attack while on stage.

In many ways, he lived the outlaw life his music always alluded to. Over his lifetime, he married and divorced Brenda Tindell a total of three times. In 2007, he shot a man outside a bar in Lorena, Texas, in what he later claimed was self-defense. The jury acquitted Shaver on the charges.

Over the course of his career, Shaver released 17 studio albums, one of his most successful “Long in the Tooth” released in 2014. In 2007, Shaver was up for a Grammy Award for his album “Everybody’s Brother.” And last year, the ACM presented Shaver with the Poet’s Award.

Many consider Shaver to be a pioneer of outlaw country. Some of his most iconic songs include “Honky Tonk Heroes,” “Georgia on a Fast Train, and “Old Five and Dimers Like Me.”