You know you’re off to a good start when your guitar teacher is Dickey Betts, and he gives you Duane Allman’s Fender Stratocaster as a gift.
It also doesn’t hurt when your father is legendary country music singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver.
But make no mistake: Eddy Shaver earned his keep, playing alongside his dad and with some of the biggest names in music. He certainly mastered that Stratocaster.
(photo courtesy of billyjoeshaver.com)
Born in Waco, Texas, Eddy Shaver was the only son of Billy Joe Shaver, a rought-and-tumble legendary songwriter whose work has been recorded by the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
According to British newspaper The Independent, Eddy Shaver was just 12 when Betts taught him to play guitar.
“A lot of my playing comes form watching Dickey Betts play,” Shaver once told the newspaper. “He taught me that every note had to have a presence to it.”
At just 13, the younger Shaver went on the road with his dad, largely to tune his father’s guitars, Billy Joe Shaver later said. But Eddy Shaver was off and running.
He formed the Delta Rebels rock band in Memphis, and later joined country star Dwight Yoakam’s band as lead guitarist, and gig that lasted until 1989.
He then teamed with his father, forming the band Shaver — in essence the two Shavers with a host of guest musicians. By then Eddy Shaver had developed a hard-driving guitar style that added a hard edge to his father’s music. They released their first album, Tramp On Your Street, in 1993.
The duo recorded several other albums over the years that followed, including 1999’s Honky Tonk Heroes, featuring Kris Kristoferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. For his part Eddy Shaver had established himself as a premier guitar player, and prepared to release a solo album in 2001.
But he had also inherited some of the hard-living habits that plagued his father’s early career. Eddy Shaver overdosed on heroin on New Year’s Eve in 2000, and died at the age of 38.
Billy Joe Shaver has released some of his son’s work posthumously, and maintains an online tribute page to his son. The obvious tragedy is that Eddy Shaver didn’t make a bigger mark before his death.
The beauty of it is that you can still hear him play — and you should.
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