Happy birthday, Billy Joe Shaver! The Texas outlaw turns 77 today, Aug. 16. Born in Corsicana, Texas, Shaver joins fellow Texans like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson on the state’s long list of storied country music outlaws.
Shaver’s 1973 debut, Old Five And Dimers Like Me, immediately garnered the respect of both the critics and his peers. For the rest of his career, he never veered from his classic sound.
One of his most well-known songs is “Live Forever.” Robert Duvall famously performed the song in the movie Crazy Heart. The Highwaymen also covered it. In honor of his birthday, check out Shaver’s 2009 live performance of the song.
Shaver had his brushes with tragedy, near-tragedy and the law. His beloved son, guitarist and co-writer Eddy (who wrote “Live Forever” with his dad) died from a heroin overdose in 1999, a year after losing both his wife and mother to cancer.
Billy Joe Shaver famously suffered a heart attack live on stage not long after, but roared back on the scene in 2002. Shaver then got in trouble with the law (again) when he shot a man in the face in the parking lot of a bar. The man suffered injuries but did not die.
A Waco court acquitted Shaver after he pleaded self defense. Willie Nelson and Robert Duvall both showed up to Shaver’s trial in support of their friend. Fellow Texan honored him with a song called “Where Do You Want It?” which is what Shaver allegedly asked the man who pulled a knife on him before shooting him.
You can still catch Billy Joe Shaver on the road, playing select dates in Texas and other states.