"Cowboy" Jack Clement, maybe the most important figure in country music that most fans don’t know, died Thursday at his home in Nashville after battling
Clement was one of the most revered musicians, producers, songwriters, engineers and all-around sages in country music since the 1950s, a man who was sought out in later years by
He was the first person to record
Kris Kristofferson has often credited Clement as the one who may have persuaded him to make Nashville his home and start his career as a songwriter there.
"Cowboy Jack Clement was the first person I met in Nashville, while I was still in uniform in the Army," Kristofferson told The Times by e-mail on Thursday. "One of the funniest, most generous people on the planet.
"He introduced me to Johnny Cash by showing him a letter my mother had written disowning me for resigning my commission to be a songwriter (which included a disparaging reference to my respect for Johnny Cash)," Kristofferson wrote. "To me Jack will always be the embodiment of the Nashville songwriter's love of the song, regardless of who the writer was. He'll be sorely missed by anyone who knew him."
Clement's idiosyncratic career was examined and celebrated in the acclaimed 2005 documentary "Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan: Cowboy Jack Clement's Home Movies," which featured interviews with Jones as well as Bono, Cash, Jennings, Dolly Parton and others woven in with actual home movies.
Jack Henderson Clement was born April 8, 1931, in
For U2, he produced “When Love Comes to Town” and “Angel of Harlem.” Clement also did the first recordings for
Clement's home studio, known around Nashville as The Cowboy Arms & Recording Spa, drew most of the big names in country music and many in rock as well at one time or another.
"Among music types, dreamers, poets and clowns," colleague Peter Cooper writes in his obituary in the Nashville Tennessean, "keys to Mr. Clement's house were as common as guitar picks, and as valued as gold records."
He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in April, along with Bobby
In January Clement was the honoree at an all-star concert at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. Participants included Kristofferson, Pride, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell,
A full obituary will follow at follow at latimes.com/obits.
Here's a video of Clement performing his song "Just a Girl I Used To Know":
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