Waco, TexasKWTX)- “Just like the songs I leave behind, now I will live forever.”
These are the words of country music legend and longtime Waco resident Billy Joe Shaver, who passed away on October 23, 2020.
After his death, Billy Joe’s cousin, Mark Watson, led the effort to ensure that the singer-songwriter was not forgotten.
Supporters raised 80 percent of the money needed to build a statue that looked like a village singer, and Watson said it saw light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in two and a half years.
I don’t think it’s a train either. Giving up was never an option. I promised Billy Joe we’d do it. He wanted us to do it and we will do it,” Watson said.
Raising money was not easy. Watson and a handful of supporters tried everything they could think of to raise the funds needed for the statue.
“I contacted every country artist and songwriter I could think of, every concert hall in the state. Most of the time, I just got excuses,” Watson said.
Watson’s cousin, James Bishop, came up with a fundraising idea that they hope will get them across the finish line.
A really nice Takemine guitar signed by the king of country music himself: George Strait.
“James knows someone who is friends with George’s son, Bubba. He got in touch and we sent them the guitar. George signed it and sent it back to us.”
Watson says he hopes the guitar will raise the $8,000 needed to fully fund the statue being sculpted by Texas artist Payne Lara.
“If not, it should bring us very close,” Watson said.
At last check, the highest price for a guitar was $2,000.
“I hope that serious bidders are waiting for the last minute so as not to give up. That’s what I would do,” Watson said.
Auction ends at 10:00 pm on Sunday, January 15th.
Shaver, who was born in Corsicana and lived most of his life in Waco, has written hits for Waylon Jennings, Jon Anderson, Kris Kristofferson and Elvis, to name but a few.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
To make a tax-free donation to fundraising efforts, go to www.billyjoeshaverstatue.com.
To bet on the guitar, go to James Bishop’s Facebook page. Press here.
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