Guy Clark Dead at 74
The iconic Guy Clark has died. He was 74 years old.
Clark, a Grammy winner and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, passed away on Tuesday morning (May 17) in Nashville, following a long illness. The Tennessean reports that Clark's health had been declining in recent years, and that he'd fought a lengthy battle with cancer.
Born in Monahans, Texas, on Nov. 6, 1941, Clark and his family lived at his grandmother's motel -- that's where he became familiar with Jack Prigg, the subject of his song "Desperados Waiting for a Train" -- before moving to Rockport, Texas, when Clark was a teenager. Clark was involved with numerous sports and clubs in high school, and in 1963, he joined the Peace Corps; in 1966, he and his first wife, Susan Spaw, welcomed a son.
In the late '60s, Clark moved to Houston and opened a guitar repair store with his friend, Minor Wilson. He also performed at various venues around town, meeting and making friends with then-newcomers Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker and more. Following his split from Spaw in 1969, Clark moved to San Francisco, again working with Wilson at a guitar repair shop, but he was back in Houston within a year.
The West Coast was calling, however, and after meeting his future wife, Susanna Talley (whom Clark married in January of 1972), he and his beloved headed to Los Angeles. Clark built dobros for the Dopyera Brothers Original Musical Instruments Company, played in a bluegrass band and pitched songs to publishing companies. In the fall of 1971, after signing a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar, Clark and Talley headed for Nashville.
Throughout the '70s, Clark wrote well-known hits such as “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “L.A. Freeway," “That Old Time Feeling," "She Ain't Going Nowhere," "Let Him Roll," "Rita Ballou" and "Texas 1947." Artists such as Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and many, many more have recorded Clark-penned songs. Ricky Skaggs earned a No. 1 song with Clark's "Heartbroke" in 1982.
In 1975, Clark released his own debut album, Old No. 1, with RCA Records. In 1978, he moved to Warner Bros., and in 1989, he signed with Sugar Hill Records, releasing numerous acclaimed projects in the following two and a half decades. His final album, 2013's My Favorite Picture of You, earned the Grammy for Best Folk Album. In addition to his awards and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction, Clark was recognized by the Americana Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting.
Clark leaves behind his son, Travis, and daughter-in-law, Krista McMurtry Clark; two grandchildren, Dylan and Ellie Clark; two sisters, Caroline Clark Dugan and Jan Clark; his manager and dear friend, Keith Case; his caretaker and sweetheart, Joy Brogdon; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends. Wife Susanna passed away in June of 2012, after a battle with cancer.
Funeral arrangements for Clark are pending.
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