during the band's heyday. Born on September 11, 1953, in Montgomery, Alabama,
's interest in music began at a young age and he spent years playing in local bands. He was still living in Montgomery when he was offered an audition to replace departed guitarist
. By the time
was not only a full-time member, he had written the album's title track. From 1976 through 1983,
contributed songs like "Fooling Yourself," "Blue Collar Man," and "Too Much Time on My Hands" to their catalog.
With personal tensions causing the band to go on hiatus, Shaw
released his first solo album in the fall of 1984 and managed to score a Top 40 single with the title track, "Girls with Guns." He followed that set with two more solo releases, 1985's What If?
and 1987's Ambition, but neither was as commercially successful. Shaw
soon found himself joining forces with Ted Nugent
, Night Ranger
's Jack Blades
, and drummer Michael Cartellone
to form Damn Yankees
. The new act was immediately embraced by rock radio and crossed over to the pop charts with the power ballad "High Enough," co-written by Shaw
. Their self-titled debut album would go on to platinum status and the quartet was a popular live draw. Don't Tread
, the follow-up issued two years later, was a moderate success but not on the scale of their first record, and the band was shelved. In 1995, Shaw
and Blades cut their own disc, 1995's Hallucination
, as Shaw Blades.
In 1996, Shaw
rejoined the lineup of Styx
(which had recorded one album together in his absence) for a well-received reunion tour, documented in the live greatest-hits set Return to Paradise
balanced the band's touring with his solo work, releasing 7 Deadly Zens
in 1998. Critically, the album was one of his best received and saw appearances from his Damn Yankees
bandmates. The following year, Shaw
in the studio to record a full-length album of new material for the first time in more than 15 years. Although Brave New World
didn't earn them a place on commercial and rock radio formats that they had once dominated, it sold well and the band again embarked on a successful tour. Shaw
returned to the studio in 2006 for a second collaboration with fellow Yankee Jack Blades
He made a very wide left turn in 2011, turning in The Great Divide, an album that returned him to his first musical love: bluegrass. Shaw
learned his flatpicking skills as a youngster playing the genre almost exclusively. The album, which is exclusively progressive bluegrass (it's not pure because the set has a drummer), was released on the Pazzo Music imprint through Fontana. It features Shaw
in some very tough company: along with guests Alison Krauss and Dwight Yoakam guesting on vocals, the house band for the set includes fiddler Stuart Duncan, mandolinist Sam Bush, Dobro bosses Rob Ickes and Jerry Douglas, second guitarist Chris Brown, banjoist Scott Vestal, and drummer Chris Brown. The Great Divide was released in March of 2011.