Outlaw Shit – The Trial of Billy Joe Shaver

April 6, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  18 Comments

Billy Joe ShaverToday is the day that original country music Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver faces trial for shooting 50-year-old Billy Coker in the cheek outside of Papa Joe’s Saloon in Lorena, TX, on March, 31st of 2007. Shaver’s charged with aggravated assault. The incident has been memorialized in the song Where Do You Want It? from the story that Shaver asked Billy Coker that question right before he shot him. Coker’s injuries were minor.

You can read the complete affidavit of the incident, including the “Where do you want it” part by clicking here. Yesterday Shaver appeared to be in good spirits (see brief interview here), saying, “I just feel great, yeah, shoot yea, wouldn’t you? Finally going to get it over with, man.”

This trial and all the talk recently of country music “Outlaws” has been getting me thinking of what that term really means. Calling yourself an outlaw is kind of like calling yourself a criminal, outside the law. A “WANTED” poster was the backdrop for that famous Outlaws album by Waylon, Willie, Tompall, and Miss Jessi.

Many think of Waylon Jennings as the top Outlaw, but he hated the term, mainly because he blamed it for his cocaine possession charge in 1977, which was memorialized in another Outlaw song, “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand?” written by Waylon himself. The cocaine charge was later dropped. The recent release Waylon Forever had a new, slower version of the song called “Outlaw Shit.” I think this version does a better job conveying the soul of that song; the somber life of a true Outlaw: always having to look over your shoulder, being pursued by the consequences of your actions, worried that the loss of your freedom could be around any corner.

When nobody’s freedom is in jeopardy, Outlaw talk is all rootin’ tootin’ fun and games. But at this very moment it doesn’t seem so fun. Billy Joe Shaver is the strongest living link to the Outlaw movement of the mid-70’s in my opinion. Willie Nelson evolved after the Outlaw years into the wise, Texas Yoda character he is today. But Billy Joe never got off of that horse. There’s no step down in Outlaw stature to Billy; he is an original, and belongs right up there with Willie and Waylon and a few choice others.

I have no idea if Shaver is guilty or not, I wasn’t there. Everyone has a right to defend themselves. I don’t know if this is a perfect example of the overreaching arm of the law that has touched us all at one point, or not. What I do know is that by God, Billy Joe Shaver is my favorite living Outlaw, and at age 71, there’s only a few more years for him to make music. To lock him up and rob this world of some of the last precious music he has to make seems to me like a a gross injustice.

Please leave a word for Billy in the comment section below.

18 Comments to “Outlaw Shit – The Trial of Billy Joe Shaver”

  • I agree 100% Triggerman. It WOULD be a crime in itself to lock him up. But, we all know too well that the justice system rarely gives a damn either way. As long as they can make the headlines then they’re happy.

  • Yo! Billie Joe, Hope all goes well for U, I Have Ton’s of Respect for U an always will.. U Take Care Now My Fren. It will Pass. Storms Never Last! With Love an Deep Respect Carolyn.. 1 Hoss Head

  • too bad his trial isn’t out here. it would probably end in a hung jury.

  • I tragically only own the Old Five & Dimers Like Me album (which I love), so if anyone would like to suggest what to get next I’d appreciate it!

    Here’s to Billy Joe!

  • Billy Joe Shaver was originaly slated to be in Tompalls spot on the “OUTLAW” album but his (late)wife Brenda told Waylon it was time for Billy to be “respectable” and put that outlaw stuff behind him. LOL, he said he had to give up the argument because, after all he was sleeping with Brenda not Waylon. I think if he had won that argument there would have been a whole new chapter in country music. I wish him all the luck in the world with the trial and hope to see him at the Nelsonville Music Festival this May.

  • Best of Luck Billy Joe. You should be untouchable like Willie. Thanks for being an outlaw. I love all you old timers .. lasts of a dying breed. My grampa (“Paw Paw”) from my mother’s side was arrested for pulling a gun in a convenience store in town in a week old drunken binge and walked out of the courtroom with a week’s worth of community service, where he hung out with the city dept. and went home at lunch. My grandpa from Deddy’s side, Bruce Lee, was busted with dozens of plants and vast amount of weed in his freezer and walked out of the court room with 5 yrs. probation. All old outlaws should receive the same justice provided to them. They are of a dying breed and are from a different time where folks could defend themselves and folks lived by the sword so to speak and there was exceptions to the rule. Billy Joe is one of them.

  • Very interesting insight AJ.

    Makes you think that just one or two generations ago, “Outlaw” meant a completely different thing than it does today. People (like Waylon and Shaver’s wife) wanted to distance from it, because they knew “the law don’t understand.” Now everyone wants to be one, and the law STILL don’t understand.

    The only reason Shaver wasn’t as big as Willie and Waylon, or at least Kris or Tompall was because each time he’d put out an album, the label would fold, and the album would go out of print. That’s one of the reasons Billy’s most recognized album is a Waylon album, Honky Tonk Heroes. Yeah, if he was on that album, things would’ve been much different. And maybe Tompall and Waylon would’ve remained friends.

  • re: AJ’s statement, that is very interesting. and maybe if he would have gone w/Waylon he wouldn’t be in a freakin courtroom w/his freedom at risk.
    if if if if if if if….hmmmmm
    best of luck to Billy Joe

  • I like Billy Joe, and Waylon of course, but as the daughter of a police officer, if he goes to jail, he very well deserves it.
    I don’t know him personally, and I don’t know if he did it or not. If he did, then he deserves to pay for his crime, you can’t just go off and shoot someone, it is against the law. And I see many people saying “the law don’t understand” maybe in some cases they don’t, but in this case, they do.
    The only real way that it is legal to hurt someone is in self-defence, and even with that there is a limit. If you’re going to just go and shoot someone because you’re angry, then you better be ready to wear bright colors an handcuffs for awhile.

  • BJS TRIAL UPDATE: …”They severed the weapons charge. The jury will only be considering the assault”. GREAT news but it aint over yet . . .

  • Had a feeling he’d get off on the weapons charge, he has a concealed permit.

    For any that desire to, there is a reporter whose using Twitter from inside the courtroom to keep everyone updated:


  • For those who are not in the know, Billy Joe is a Texas Treasure. He has lead the “country music” life, and experienced more loss and sadness than most people (prayfully) will ever know. He’s our moden day Job, a songwriter, and a man that aspires to be a Christian. I say that meaning that the very best any of us can do is aspire to be a Christian (or religion of our choice). Humans are by nature flawed, and the trial of our beloved Billy Joe is the trial of every man – inherently flawed, but desiring to be better. God bless Billy Joe – may his son Eddie and wife Brenda be constantly looking out for him from Heaven. Texas could not get along without our “old lump of coal that will be a diamond someday.” Pray for Billy Joe. He is loved, flawed, and loved. “If at first you don’t succeed, then try, and try again.”

  • Hi Billy Joe…..Hope everything goes well for you…

  • 2 Kaitie Lutz:there are lots of bigger crimes in the States than this Texas”saloon-battle”as there are murders,beheadings,jihad-terrorism, corruption and more:why don’t they put these criminals in jail,instead of pleasin’ them, as government is doin now????And this system is complainin about this minor thing??
    Good luck to you Billy !!


  • Why aren’t law officers in jail that shoot and beat people?

  • In Arizona, He is innocent.

  • man to be an out law today is considered a terrorist don’t be haitin on anyone i havnt read no comments nore will i but i will say stand up for what you think is right outlaws hit by waylon is awsome song i live my life trying to do the right thing and have lost everything because of it i lost truck my son an my wife im so broke i aint even got the money to drown my sarrows but best belive i will continue to do the right thing no matter what the law people or sociotly says im kyle mutha f*ckin hugo son of homer hugo grandson of homer hugo sr rip pa paw n my final coment is dont let this worl rip you up im only 21 n have experienced a lot aint much that can bring me down im not some spoiled brat rather im a true american despite what i think of todays ways im a man of true belief(dont bother correcting me of my spelling idc thankyou for reading what i had to say

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