Billy Edd Wheeler (1932– )

Updated: March 01, 2011

Country songwriter and singer.

Billy Edd Wheeler, born December 9, 1932, in Boone County, West Virginia, won wide acclaim as a songwriter, musician, poet, playwright, and humorist. His recording of “Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back,” which he also wrote, was a number three country hit in 1964.

Wheeler’s songs have been recorded by approximately ninety artists, including the Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; June Carter and Johnny Cash; Elvis Presley; Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood; Judy Collins; and Kenny Rogers. The best known of Wheeler’s songs are “The Reverend Mr. Black,” “The Coming of the Roads,” “Jackson,” and “Coward of the County” (written with Roger Bowling). Wheeler has composed several Appalachia-related songs, including “Coal Tattoo” and “They Can’t Put It Back.” He has won twelve American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers awards and Billboard magazine’s Pacesetter Award for Music and Drama, and he has been nominated for the Nashville Songwriter Association International Hall of Fame.

Educated at Warren Wilson College, Berea College, and Yale Drama School, Wheeler has written twenty plays, including several long-running outdoor dramas: Hatfields and McCoys, staged in Beckley, West Virginia; Young Abe Lincoln, in Lincoln City, Indiana; and Johnny Appleseed, in Mansfield, Ohio. He is author or coauthor of five books of Appalachian humor. Wheeler has also published two volumes of poetry, and he has made records for the Monitor, United Artists, Kapp, Capitol, and RCA labels.

Wheeler lives in Swannanoa, North Carolina. When not writing, he depicts Appalachian life in paintings, drawings, and sculpture.

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MLA Style

"Billy Edd Wheeler," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2018, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 23 Sep 2018 <>

APA Style

"Billy Edd Wheeler." (2018) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved September 23, 2018, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia:

Billy Edd Wheeler