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Outlaw country pioneer Billy Joe Shaver dead at 81

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Rick Kern/WireImage for Shock InkBilly Joe Shaver, the pioneering singer-songwriter whose songs were recorded by the legendary likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley, has died after suffering a stroke, Rolling Stone reports. He was 81 years old.

In addition to writing classic outlaw country songs for some of the genre’s biggest names, the Texas native enjoyed a cult following as a performer in his own right. He released his debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, in 1973, and is especially well-known for his song “Live Forever,” which actor Robert Duvall performs in the movie Crazy Heart.

Shaver became a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, and was recently included in a Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit dedicated to outlaw country.

Known for living a life every bit as raw and colorful as his songs, Shaver was charged with shooting a man in the face outside a Waco, Texas bar in 2007. He was ultimately acquitted at a trial attended by both Robert Duvall and Willie Nelson.

Following his death, Shaver was remembered on social media by performers such as Josh Abbott and Jason Isbell., the latter of whom tweeted, “Billy Joe Shaver might’ve been the only true outlaw who ever made his living writing about the inner workings of his heart.  The realest of them all.”


By Carena Liptak
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