Tuesday, May 17, 2016
– Leading Texas singer/songwriter Guy Clark, who penned such songs as "LA Freeway" and ""Desperados Waiting for a Train," died at 74, his family reported today.
Clark had been ill for some time,including with cancer, although no cause of death was given.
Clark was a Grammy-winner, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame member, Academy of Country Music Poet's Award honoree.
He was born in the west Texas town of Monahans on Nov 6, 1941. The family lived at his grandmother's 13-room shotgun hotel. When Clark's father returned from World War II and graduated from law school, the Clarks moved to the Gulf coast town of Rockport, Texas.
After several attempts at college, Clark joined the Peace Corps in 1963. He trained in Rio Abajo, Puerto Rico, practicing water survival, rock climbing and trekking. Clark moved to Houston, where he opened a guitar repair shop. He played guitar and sang folk songs at the Houston Folklore Society, Sand Mountain coffee shop and the Jester Lounge, where he began life long friendships with fellow songwriters and musicians Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. He married his first wife, folksinger Susan Spaw, and they had a son Travis in 1966.
In 1969, the marriage ended, Clark moved to San Francisco and again worked in a guitar repair shop. Within a year, he moved back to Houston. Clark landed a job building Dobros at the Dopyera Brothers Original Musical Instruments Co. He played with a bluegrass band on the weekends and pitched his songs to publishing companies in between.
He signed a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar and moved to Nashville in the fall of 1971. Several months later, he married Susanna Talley with Townes Van Zandt as best man.
In that first year in East Nashville Susanna and Townes wrote "Heavenly Houseboat Blues," while Clark wrote "Desperados Waiting for a Train," "L.A. Freeway," and "That Old Time Feeling." Clark released "Old No. 1," his debut for RCA Records in 1975.
Clark left RCA for Warner Brothers in 1978, scoring a number one song with Ricky Skaggs' take on "Heartbroke" in 1982 and making it onto the Billboard country chart with "Homegrown Tomatoes" in 1983.
Clark signed with Sugar Hill Records in 1989 and later released a string of folk and Americana albums with Sugar Hill, Asylum Records and Dualtone Music Group during the next two-and-a-half decades: "Old Friends," "Boats to Build," "Dublin Blues," "Keepers," "Cold Dog Soup," "The Dark," "Workbench Songs," "Somedays the Song Writes You" and his final 2013 Grammy-winning Best Folk Album, "My Favorite Picture of You."
Clark enjoyed success as a songwriter as well. He co-wrote the Rodney Crowell hit "She's Crazy for Leavin'" with Crowell along with Top 10 country songs for Vince Gill ("Oklahoma Borderline"), John Conlee ("The Carpenter") and Steve Wariner ("Baby I'm Yours").
Susanna died from complications of lung cancer in 2012. Due to ongoing health problems, Clark 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; and sisters Caroline Clark Dugan and Jan Clark.
Funeral arrangements are pending.