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Country music star Billy Joe Shaver has died at the age of 81, Fox News can confirm.
The singer-songwriter died on Wednesday following "an illness," a rep told Fox News. He was taken to Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco, Texas.
The Texas native burst onto the country scene with his 1973 debut album, “Old Five and Dimers Like Me," and was known for contributing to the 1970s’ “outlaw country” movement.
He was friends with musical icon Willie Nelson who once called Shaver “the greatest living songwriter." Shaver's songs were recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis among other artists.
“I know the power of words,” Shaver told Esquire in 2014. “I figure they’d be here forever. I’m hoping a lot of them are gonna make it.” In the same interview, he promised: “I’ll bop till I drop.”
Billy Joe Shaver in 1980.
(Shaver’s hardscrabble songs reflected his often-tough life.)
"Shaver’s hardscrabble songs reflected his often-tough life," his rep said in a statement. He dropped out of high school and hitchhiked and drove trucks across the country. He married and divorced the same woman (Brenda Tindell) three times.
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In 2007, he shot a man in the face outside a Texas bar and was acquitted claiming self-defense. He had a heart attack on stage, wrote a memoir in 2005 titled “Honky Tonk Hero," and when he was young he lost the top of three fingers in a sawmill accident.
Sadly, in 2000, Shaver's son, Eddy, died of a heroin overdose on New Year's Eve.
Billy Joe Shaver performing in 2011.
Shaver was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He was also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2002 the Americana Music Association gave Shaver a lifetime achievement award for songwriting.
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Most recently in 2019, the Academy of Country music gave Shaver the Poets Award.
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