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Austin Chronicle Eddy Shaver

AUGUST 17, 1998: 

Eddy Shaver: Tuning Guitars

To Eddy Shaver, the best part of playing with his dad is that Shaver, the band, is just a power trio backing up Billy. On Victory, however, son Eddy takes a much quieter approach, trading in his signature Stratocaster, a treasured gift from the Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts, for acoustic guitar and dobro.

Although to a lot of folks he really stepped into the spotlight when he started playing in Shaver, particularly with 1993's Tramp on Your Street, Eddy had an interesting time of it in the Eighties. He was a member of the Memphis based Delta Rebels, who recorded for Polygram ("It was an AC/DC kind of thing") in the early part of the decade as well as playing lead guitar in Dwight Yoakam's band from 1987 to 1989.

"That was cool because I was a rock guy, playing country and rocking out," he laughs. "But I also learned some true country licks."

The younger Shaver asserts that he picked up the guitar at the age of 11 after his passion for motorcycles incurred one too many trips to the hospital. As a child of the Seventies, Eddy claims Seventies rock icons like ZZ Top, Leslie West, David Gilmore, and Jeff Beck as influences. Meanwhile, he was never overly impressed with meeting some of the country legends his father was associated with during that time, yet was thrilled with meeting Betts, who was a Billy Joe Shaver labelmate at one point.

"We became friends," he says, "and he gave me an old 355 that used to be Duane's."

He also recalls a special night in 1980 when he met Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.

"I remember doing shots with him at the Soap Creek Saloon. He was a big fan of my father's music. It makes sense really. They're both great lyricists."

Billy Joe tells an interesting story on how he discovered that Eddy could play guitar.

"I used to have a terrible time tuning the guitar. This was before electric tuners. One day I was really frustrated and threw the guitar down 'cause I'd keep breaking strings and stuff. I went in the kitchen and I hear somebody playing and I come back out and it's Eddy. I said, 'Man I didn't know you played.'

"He says, 'Yeah, I can play.'

"And I said, 'Well, can you tune it?'

"He says, 'Sure I can tune it.'

"And I said, 'Well, you know you're gonna have to be my tuner from now on.'

"And he was my tuner until I found one of those electric tuners. When we went down to Houston, he was about 13 and I took him out of school to go out on the road with me, just so he could tune my guitar. Now he's so good, if he wasn't my kid, I couldn't afford him."

Gratefully, Eddy remembers.

"Yeah, he thought I was good, when I was really bad." - J.C.

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