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SHAVER, JOHN EDWIN [EDDY]

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SHAVER, JOHN EDWIN [EDDY] (1962–2000). Guitarist, arranger, and songwriter Eddy Shaver was born John Edwin Shaver on June 20, 1962, in Waco, Texas. He was the son of legendary Texas singer–songwriter Billy Joe Shaver and wife Brenda (Tindell) Shaver. Because his father was a well-known performer, Eddy Shaver grew up around music and musicians. By the age of twelve, he could play the guitar and went on to learn guitar techniques from some of his father’s famous friends, including Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band.

By age thirteen, Eddy began playing on some of his father’s demo recordings, including “When I Get My Wings.” This early exposure to performing and recording gave Eddy the chance to network with other musicians, and he soon began playing and touring with the band, The Can’t Hardly Playboys. Within a few years, Billy Joe had taken Eddy out of school, and the two began recording more demos together. With Eddy on lead guitar and his father on vocals, the two soon landed a recording contract with Capricorn Records in California.

Eddy had a unique playing style that some referred to as “controlled distortion.” This technique of stretching out notes, while still staying on the beat caught the attention of country star Dwight Yoakam in 1984. Eddy went on to tour with Yoakam for two years in 1987 and 1989. Eddy also performed with many other artists including Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson. In 1993 Billy Joe and Eddy Shaver released the critically-acclaimed album Tramp on Your Street.

Throughout the 1990s, Eddy’s guitar work brought him great acclaim and even comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Perhaps ironically, it was Eddy’s hard-driving rock-and-roll guitar style that also earned the father-son duo some criticism. Some fans argued that Eddy’s guitar playing did not fit well with Billy Joe’s more traditional honky-tonk style. Nevertheless, the two continued recording and performing together.

In 1999 Brenda Shaver died of cancer. Eddy was devastated by the loss of his mother. Soon afterward, he admitted to his father that he was a heroin addict. Eddy’s unsuccessful attempts at drug rehabilitation led to growing conflicts with Billy Joe. However, the two were able to reconcile some of their problems when they recorded their next album, The Earth Rolls On, which featured their duet “Blood is Thicker than Water,” and was scheduled for release in the spring of 2001.

He married Irene Triola on October 19, 2000. As 2000 was coming to a close, Eddy Shaver was working to stay off drugs and was looking forward to recording a solo album on the Antone’s Records label. However, on December 30, 2000, he was found unconscious in a Waco hotel room and was pronounced brain dead at 2:58 A.M. on December 31. The details of his death were unclear, but police determined that Eddy Shaver died of an accidental heroin overdose. Despite the tragedy, Billy Joe decided to play his scheduled New Year’s Eve show in Austin where he was joined by Willie Nelson and numerous other friends in remembering Eddy Shaver’s life and career.

Eddy Shaver was survived by his wife, Irene, his father, Billy Joe Shaver, his aunt, Patricia Shaver, and numerous cousins and friends. He was buried at Heritage Memorial Park in Waco.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American–Statesman, January 3, 2001. Houston Chronicle, January 3, 2001. In Loving Memory of Eddy Shaver, 6-20-62–12-31-00 (http://www.texasmusicguide.com/lovingeddy.htm), accessed November 22, 2011. Billy Joe Shaver, assisted by Brad Reagan, Honky Tonk Hero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005). Richard Skanse, “Shaver Guitarist Dead at Thirty-Eight” (http://www.gkmyers.com/shaver/eddy/eddy_rollingstone.html), accessed November 22, 2011.

Erinn Park

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Erinn Park, "Shaver, John Edwin [Eddy]," accessed October 21, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsh74.

Uploaded on May 6, 2015. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.