Eddy Shaver, who died of an overdose on December 31, 2000, at the age of 38, was a rare guitar talent. (He was planning to begin recording his first solo album on January 2, 2001.) Under the moniker Shaver, he and his father, outlaw singer/songwriter legend Billy Joe Shaver, cut a series of albums during the '90s that found usually level-headed (even jaded) critics tossing around the word masterpiece. Shaver has also played on records by Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, and toured with Dwight Yoakam. Mostly, however, he is remembered for his groundbreaking work with his father.
Theirs was not an easily accepted pairing, however; early on, folks found Billy Joe Shaver's bruised hillbilly vocals and modern cowboy poetry to be an odd fit for Eddy's searing rock guitar virtuosity. And the blood alliance would push them between the cracks of country and rock to a position of much critical acclaim but little commercial success -- and certainly no peers.
The two first came together for Billy Joe's 1987 album Salt of the Earth. 1993's much celebrated Tramp on Your Street represented the first album under the Shaver moniker. More acclaimed releases would follow, including 1995's Unshaven: Live at Smith's Olde Bar, 1996's Highway of Life, 1998's Victory (named after Billy Joe's mother, who succumbed to cancer the next year, and considered by many one of the finest Americana albums of all time), and 1999's Electric Shaver. The Earth Rolls On (2001) was the father and son's final album together, and it is quite a testament to their partnership. Eddy offers some of his most tempered playing ever -- knowing when to settle back and subtly accent pieces and when to unleash some of his moodiest, most affecting storms ever.
The night Eddy died, Shaver was booked to play a gig on the outskirts of Austin. When the guitarist didn't show up, Willie Nelson filled in for him. Such was the respect that Shaver garnered. Eddy was pronounced dead in the early morning hours. ~ Erik Hage, Rovi