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GUY CLARK, 1941-2016

Guy Clark, the Texas singer/songwriter whose songs were packed with emotion and detail and would inspire a long line of musicians he considered friends—Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker among them—died early Tuesday morning in Nashville. He was 74.

Clark had been in hospice care since late April after living in a nursing home facility. Health issues forced him to stop touring and recording in 2012; in his 60s, he had lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy.

Hailing from the small west Texas town of Monahans, Clark was a star high school athlete who left college for the Peace Corps and eventually found his way to Houston where he opened a guitar repair shop. In the mid-60s, he struck up friendships with a collection of songwriters working the Lone Star State, among them the man who would inspire him to write, Townes Van Zandt, Walker and Mickey Newbury.

Eventually, Clark moved to Nashville where he signed his first publishing deal—with Sunbury Dunbar—and he started writing songs that would put him on the country music map: “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “L.A. Freeway” and “That Old Time Feeling.” RCA signed him, releasing his debut Old No. 1 in 1975; he would later move to Warner Bros.

Johnny Cash, John Denver, Walker, Van Zandt, Harris, Rodney Crowell and the Marshall Tucker Band recorded his songs throughout the 1970s;  Ricky Skaggs took his “Heartbroke” to #1 in 1982.

After signing with Sugar Hill Records in 1989, Clark hit his stride as a recording artist, releasing 10 albums that helped define the Americana genre over the next 24 years on Sugar Hill, Asylum and Dualtone. His final album, My Favorite Picture of You, won the Grammy for folk music.

Guy is survived by his son Travis and daughter-in-law Krista McMurtry Clark; grandchildren Dylan and Ellie Clark; and sisters Caroline Clark Dugan and Jan Clark.

See Holly Gleason's in-depth remembrance of Guy here.

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