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For more than 30 years, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce has been the home of live music on public radio. Produced by West Virginia Public broadcasting and distributed by NPR Music, each two hour episode of Mountain Stage can be heard every week on more than 240 stations across America, and around the world via NPR Music and mountainstage.org.

Mountain Stage Remembers Billy Joe Shaver (1939-2020)

Billy Joe Shaver on Mountain Stage, 2011
BRIAN BLAUSER bblauser@hotmail.com
Billy Joe Shaver appeared seven times on Mountain Stage since 1995

The “honky tonk hero,” Billy Joe Shaver, passed away at the age of 81 earlier this week. Shaver’s songs helped start the outlaw country movement in 1973 when Waylon Jennings released his Honky Tonk Heroes album. The landmark release contained nine Shaver compositions, which included classics like the title track, “Ride Me Down Easy” and “Old Five and Dimers (Like Me)”.

His songs would be recorded by Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson among others, and he released more than 20 records, including several high water marks with his son, Eddy, on guitar.

Shaver appeared seven times on “Mountain Stage” since 1995. Host Larry Groce summed things up succinctly in his 2014 introduction by saying "Billy Joe Shaver has actually lived the life that many in modern country music only sing about."

You can hear his 2011 appearance on the show via NPR Music below, which includes some of his best known hits like “Georgia On A Fast Train,” “Live Forever” and “Old Chunk of Coal,” as well as more recent tunes like “The Get Go” and “Wacko from Waco,” which recounts the much-publicized shooting incident Shaver was involved in at a Texas saloon in 2007.

For more, we recommend Texas Monthly’s 2003 feature “ The Ballad of Billy Joe Shaver,” and this Essential Songs List and obituary from Rolling Stone Country.

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