Visiting Billy Joe Shaver

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See below for detailed instructions on locating Billy Joe Shaver’s grave.

I don’t think it should seem strange that when our country heroes leave us, it hurts as if we have lost a close friend or relative, even if we never knew our favorite artists personally, and would be lucky if we could even give them a chance. once or twice. Yet we spend so much time with them in our lives, sometimes even more than our real friends and family. They are there for us during our most difficult and troubling times. And while others may disappoint us, their music never does. Well, at least not their good stuff. It transcends their mortal time on Earth and lasts forever.

Billy Joe Shaver can be a hero to someone, even if they don’t care about country music. His fingers were cut off in a sawmill when he was young, dodging bullets his own suicide attemptthreatened to kick Waylon in the ass before God and everyone else before Waylon saw the light and recorded an entire album of his songs (Honky Tonk Heroessurvive a heart attack on stage at Gruene Hall and so forth, let alone arguably the greatest Outlaw country songwriter of all time, Billy Joe Shaver was definitely a hero, and he was so conceived by his colleagues

But eventually, and somewhat inexplicably, Billy Joe Shaver passed away, on October 28, 2020. Turns out, only his songs were immortal. But you can still see him at the Waco Memorial Park just south of Waco, Texas, and just north of the infamous Papa Joe’s bar where Billy Joe Shaver once shot a man in the face after allegedly asking him, ” Where do you want it?” But don’t worry, he beat the rap with a legitimate claim of self-defense and a character witness in Willie Nelson. Only in Texas, and only Billy Joe Shaver could do such a thing. That was why he was affectionately known as the Wacko of Waco, and why we all loved him.

This was actually the second attempt at visiting Billy Joe. The first was in the early summer of 2021, but arrived empty. After an unexpected heavy rain, the grass in the graveyard shot up to knee height, and a marker had yet to be placed, all I got from my efforts was a sweaty forehead and a few fleas. Even more worrisome was why the great Billy Joe Shaver was still lying in an unmarked grave more than a year after his death? What is a call to action needed? Did someone need to start a GoFundMe? This is Billy Joe Shaver we’re talking about.

But after a few phone calls, I was sure a good headstone was on the way. And so, on my next drive through Waco, I could finally and dutifully find Billy Joe Shaver’s grave and pay my respects, which I did on my way from Austin to Tulsa to see those Oklahoma boys reunite at Bob Wills’ house.

Even with a marker down, and even if the grass was as manicured as a lockout-delayed field opening day, this country fan with a knack for finding the final resting places of both famous and obscure country contributors had a devilish time to find the Billy Joe Shaver plot. So if you find yourself on this dark corner of the internet just trying to find the damn headstone itself, you’re not alone.

I eventually found it, right next to his wife Brenda Joyce whom Billy Joe married, divorced, broke up with and reunited so many times that they both lost track. And son Eddy Shaver sat next to them. Eddy died on New Year’s Eve 2000 – the year after Billy lost his wife. Eddy died of an unfortunate and tragic drug overdose, but not before becoming one of the most badass guitarists in the country, including Pete Anderson’s place in Dwight Yoakam’s band and of course playing alongside his father for years. Near the grave was a Blue Moon beer from someone who didn’t know Billy Joe had been sober since his son’s death, as well as a Red Bull from someone who’d done his homework.

I have left nothing but a solemn thank you for the music, the songs, the stories, the heroism and inspiration, for standing up to Waylon Jennings and helping him launch the Outlaw land revolution, for being manful to his kinder and softer side when needed, and to always be there for us country fans in times of need, always and forever.

Billy Joe Shaver, Eddy Shaver, and wife Brenda Joyce Shaver are buried in the Waco Memorial Park at 6623 S Interstate 35, Waco, TX on the North Entrance Road. They are located in Section A (Tower Garden), the area right in front of the cemetery office, and between the office and the highway.

Billy Joe Shaver’s plot is 195-A. If you walk from the office it’s 13 rows back and 13 lots across from the south side of the section. See the photos below for a more illustrative guide.

Billy Joe Shaver and wife Brenda Joyce

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