Legendary Texas songwriter Guy Clark, 74, dies


Grammy winner and legendary songwriter Guy Clark, 74, died in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday after a long illness.

Guy Charles Clark was born on Nov. 6, 1941 in the West Texas town of Monahans, southwest of Odessa. He grew up in his grandmother’s hotel, where an inspiring menagerie of guests wandered through — including a wildcatter named Jack Prigg, the basis of Clark’s song “Desperados Waiting For a Train.”

Clark later moved to Rockport near Port Aransas and became a student athlete, playing football, basketball and participating in track and field events. During his teenage years on the Gulf Coast, he fell in love with Mexican folk songs and Flamenco guitar. He put aside college and joined the Peace Corps in 1963 and trained in Puerto Rico.

Read about Clark’s induction into the ACL Hall of Fame last year

Clark eventually moved to Houston, where he opened a guitar shop and, after performing in clubs and coffee shops, began lifelong friendships with fellow songwriters Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker Kay Oslin and Mickey Newbury.

He married his first wife, Susan Spaw, in 1966 and had a son, Travis. But Clark and his wife split, and he got a job working at a guitar shop in San Francisco in 1969. Within a year, though, he was back in Houston playing bluegrass music and pitching songs to publishing companies.

Clark signed a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar and moved to Nashville with Susanna Talley in the fall of 1971. Clark and Talley got married in 1972 with Newbury and Van Zandt in attendance.

While in Nashville, Guy wrote “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “L.A. Freeway,” and “That Old Time Feeling.” By the time Guy released his debut album in 1975, he had written several soon-to-be classic songs including “She Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Let Him Roll,” “Rita Ballou,” and “Texas 1947.”

He scored a No. 1 song with Ricky Skaggs’s take on “Heartbroke” in 1982 and broke into the Billboard country chart with “Homegrown Tomatoes” in 1983. Clark released a string of folk and Americana albums with Sugar Hill, Asylum Records and Dualtone Music Group during the next 25 years, including his final 2013 Grammy-winning album, “My Favorite Picture of You.”

Read about Clark’s two-night stand he performed in 2012

Clark hosted songwriters, folk singers and artists at his home for more than 40 years, including friends Rodney Crowell, Jim McGuire, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp, and Vince Gill.

Susanna Clark died from complications of lung cancer in 2012. Because of ongoing health problems, Guy stopped touring and recording soon after. 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.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Missing Buda man found dead in Travis County, officials say
Missing Buda man found dead in Travis County, officials say

A missing Buda man with “severe medical issues” was found dead Wednesday in Travis County, Buda police said. Buda police did not immediately release his cause of death. Before his body was found, 69-year-old David Dvorchak had last been seen Monday, leaving his Buda home for an appointment, Buda police said.
Cornyn, Cruz take opposing sides in Senate debate
Cornyn, Cruz take opposing sides in Senate debate

It was as close to a standoff as ever happens on the Senate floor: Texas GOP U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz were standing next to each other but working against each other, trying to convince a hold out senator to vote their way on foreign surveillance legislation. The clock was ticking on Tuesday night, with the usual 15-minute procedural vote...
Trump invokes Barbara Jordan in immigration debate, angering Democrats
Trump invokes Barbara Jordan in immigration debate, angering Democrats

President Donald Trump added an unexpected name into the national debate over immigration policy Wednesday by invoking the words of Barbara Jordan, the late groundbreaking Texas Democrat, in a message honoring her on the 22nd anniversary of her death. Trump said his “America First” immigration agenda was furthering “the spirit of...
Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law
Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law

A resolution encouraging students and public school employees to vote, adopted by school districts across the state, might have violated a state law that prohibits using public education money for partisan purposes, an opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday. Texas Educators Vote, a partnership of mostly pro-public education groups...
Man accused of starting 4 fires inside portable restroom in downtown Austin, officials say 
Man accused of starting 4 fires inside portable restroom in downtown Austin, officials say 

A man was arrested Tuesday after setting fire in four separate occasions to a portable restroom in downtown Austin, Austin fire officials said.  Dewight Eric Clayton, 32, who is homeless, was charged with arson of a building, officials said. He was not in Travis County Jail Wednesday evening.  Austin fire Capt. Andy Reardon, with the Fire...
More Stories