Music

Billy Joe Shaver Will Dispute Involves Willie Nelson's Nephew

Singer Billy Joe Shaver performs at Farm Aid on Randall's Island Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Billy Joe Shaver left behind at least three wills, two of which pit one of Shaver's nephews against one of Willie Nelson's nephews.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Texas country music legend's first will came in 2000 and left all of his belongings to his now 81-year-old sister, Patricia. Three years later, a second will left Shaver's estate to Patricia's son, Terry Dwayne Rogers.

A third, handwritten document from 2008 leaves Shaver's South Waco home, his songs and other assets to Bobbie Nelson's son, Fred Fletcher.

Fletcher opened Austin's Arlyn Studios in 1984. Fifteen years later, he founded Pedernales Records with his uncle Willie.

Waco attorney Fred Brown, the legal representative of Shaver's sister, is challenging the third will.

"It is clear that in all his previous wills, he meant to leave his inheritance to his family, and then all of a sudden in 2008, he's going to leave it to a record producer with no lawyer involved?" Brown told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "We all hear stories about these record producers, right?"

"As far as I am concerned, the 2008 will is the most recent will Billy Joe has out there," says Fletcher's attorney, Anthony Garcia, to the Waco Tribune-Herald. "We are just trying to do what is right for Billy Joe and his family, but my understanding is that the 2008 will is the latest one he has out there."

If the will dispute cannot be resolved out of court, it will be decided by McLennan County Court-at-Law Judge Vik Deivanayagam.

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Shaver died on Oct. 28 at the age of 81. Per SiriusXM, he passed away following a massive stroke at Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco.

Born Aug. 16, 1939 in Corsicana, Texas, Shaver was first exposed to country music when he tagged along to his single mother's job at a nightclub.

Before setting his sights on Austin or Nashville, Shaver worked at a sawmill. He lost parts of two fingers in a work accident, forcing him to adapt as a guitarist.

Shaver's first big break as a songwriter came when 10 of his songs appeared on Waylon Jennings' 1973 outlaw country classic Honky Tonk Heroes, including the title track, "Old Five and Dimers Like Me," "Black Rose" and "Ain't No God in Mexico."

Others to record Shaver's songs include Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare, Tom T. Hall, John Anderson, The Allman Brothers Band and Elvis Presley.

Additional examples of Shaver's songwriting brilliance include "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train," "Ride Me Down Easy," Bare co-write "Jesus Christ, What a Man," "Live Forever," "Wacko From Waco," "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)" (a Top 5 hit for Anderson in 1981) and "Tramp on Your Street," a homage to Hank Williams' version of country-gospel standard "Tramp on the Street." The latter became a title track for Shaver's 1993 album with his late son Eddy Shaver.

Despite having his own successful career as a touring and recording act, Shaver always defined himself as a songwriter.

"Not everyone can be dedicated to it. I'm a songwriter first and then whatever else I do second... I enjoy the heck out of entertaining and I enjoy all the aspects of what comes with it, but the song is like the cheapest psychiatrist there is," Shaver said, as quoted by Rolling Stone Country. "And I pretty much need one all the time."

Throughout his eventful life, Shaver shot a man in self-defense, appeared on screen with his friend Robert Duvall in The Apostle, got covered by Duvall in Crazy Heart and earned the adoration of Bob Dylan and various other folk, rock, country and Americana talents.

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Billy Joe Shaver Will Dispute Involves Willie Nelson's Nephew