West Virginia Encyclopedia Published

Songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler Born: December 9, 1932

Billy Edd Wheeler

On December 9, 1932, songwriter, musician, playwright, humorist, and poet Billy Edd Wheeler was born in Boone County. He started writing and performing songs when he was just a teenager.

Wheeler got his first check in the music business when Pat Boone recorded his song “Rock Boll Weevil.” He would go on to write more than 500 other songs, including the country classics “Jackson,” “The Reverend Mister Black,” and “Coward of the County.”

Some of his songs are uproariously funny. “Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back” laments the loss of backyard outhouses. But he also wrote poignant songs, like “Coal Tattoo,” which sympathizes with the plight of coal miners.

Over the years, the performers who have recorded Wheeler’s songs read like a Who’s Who of country music. They include Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Bobby Bare, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams Jr.

In addition, Wheeler wrote the long-running Hatfields and McCoys play, performed by Theatre West Virginia. In 2007, Billy Edd Wheeler was inducted into the inaugural class of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.