Cowboy Jack Clement Dead at 82
Legendary country music publisher, producer, writer, artist and mentor Cowboy Jack Clement passed away Thursday morning (Aug. 8) at his Nashville home, after a battle with liver cancer, the Tennessean reports. He was 82 years old.
Born April 5, 1931 in Whitehaven, Tenn., Clement began his career at Sun Records in the 50s, working as an engineer and producer for artists including Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and more.
He subsequently moved to Nashville, where he worked in a variety of capacities over the course of a career that helped to re-shape Music City. Among Clement’s many accomplishments, he published George Jones‘ ‘She Think I Still Care,’ arranged the horns on Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire,’ and discovered Charley Pride — breaking Nashville’s longstanding racial barrier.
A random meeting with Clement while on vacation in Nashville in 1965 convinced a would-be West Point instructor to resign his commission and move to town. Kris Kristofferson would become one of the leading lights of a new movement that re-defined country music in the 70s, bringing it to a wider audience. Clement also produced one of the keystone works of that era, Waylon Jennings‘ ‘Dreaming My Dreams.’
In addition to artists, Clement nurtured a number of Nashville’s top producers and engineers, among them Garth Fundis, Allen Reynolds and Mark Reynolds — men whose artists would dominate country in the ensuing decades.
He was also one of Music City’s most beloved figures personally, whose off-kilter view of the world and unusual sense of humor made him not only a much-sought-after mentor, but a friend to many of country music’s elite. Clement once stated his hope to build an financial empire large enough that he could fund a private space program, and regarded himself as Nashville’s Polka King.
In April, Clement was announced as one of this year’s new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Bobby Bare and Kenny Rogers. In an interview with the Tennessean newspaper, he reflected on what it takes to get into that exclusive club.
“Trying to do something that hasn’t been done before is good,” he said simply.
Clement hosted a SiriusXM show on Outlaw Country since 2005. Steve Earle will host a special tribute show to the legend on Saturday (Aug. 10) at 9PM ET on Outlaw Country.