Guy Clark, the legendary Nashville folk singer-songwriter and musician, has died at the age of 74 following a long illness. His songwriting was on another level displaying a narrative richness that carried a rare emotional weight both in words and delivery. He wrote songs for the likes of Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs and Bobby Bare and in 2011 a double album was released titled “This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark” on which the likes of Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and many others paid tribute.
Born in Monahans, Texas on November 6, 1941 Clark was quite the model student excelling in sport (captain of his football team) and science, his life could have taken many routes. Fortunately for many he also showed a love of folk music and the Flamenco guitar. His love of guitar went beyond just playing, he opened a guitar repair shop in Houston in the early ’60s and would later build Dobros for the Dopyera Brothers Original Musical Instruments Company. It was whilst in Houston and performing at local venues he befriended the likes of Mickey Newbury and Townes Van Zandt.
It was in 1971 that his career took off, having signed a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar he moved to the home of country music – Nashville. The following year, with Townes Van Zandt as best man he married his second wife, Susan Newbury (Guy lost his wife to lung cancer in 2012). His debut album, “Old No. 1,” was released in 1975 on RCA which featured L.A. Freeway and Desperados Waiting for a Train.
He later signed to Warner Brothers in 1978 with whom he released three albums as well as entering the Billboard country chart with “Homegrown Tomatoes” (from his Better Days album) in 1983.
The period from 1989 onwards is considered by many his most significant in terms of album releases on Sugar Hill, Asylum and Dualtone. This included two personal favourites: Workbench Songs and Steve Earle – Townes Van Zandt – Guy Clark – Together At The Bluebird Café. Other releases included Old Friends, Boats to Build, Dublin Blues, Keepers, Cold Dog Soup, The Dark, Somedays the Song Writes You and his 2013 Grammy-winning Best Folk Album, My Favorite Picture of You.
The following is taken from a statement issued on his official Facebook page:
For more than forty years, the Clark home was a gathering place for songwriters, folk singers, artists and misfits; many who sat at the feet of the master songwriter in his element, willing Guy’s essence into their own pens. Throughout his long and extraordinary career, Guy Clark blazed a trail for original and groundbreaking artists and troubadours including his good friends Rodney Crowell, Jim McGuire, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp, and Vince Gill.
His beloved Susanna died from complications of lung cancer in 2012. Due to ongoing health problems, Guy stopped touring and recording shortly thereafter. He is survived by his son Travis and daughter-in-law Krista McMurtry Clark; grandchildren Dylan and Ellie Clark; sisters Caroline Clark Dugan and Jan Clark; manager and friend Keith Case; caretaker and sweetheart Joy Brogdon; nieces, nephews and many, many dear friends, colleagues and fans.
Guy Charles Clark
November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016