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Country Music Icon “Cowboy” Jack Clement Passes Away

Yet another icon of country music has passed away. “Cowboy” Jack Clement, known and respected throughout the music industry for his work as a songwriter and producer, died in his Nashville home on Thursday after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 82.

Clement’s nickname was an anomaly, to say the least, since he preferred Hawaiian shirts and never liked horses. He started being called “Cowboy” from his role in an old radio skit, and the nickname stuck all his life.

This paradox was just one among many for a man who was widely associated with country music, but never restricted by it. While known for such antics as dancing around the recording studio in a bathrobe, in fact, Clement was a mover, shaker, and landscape changer in the music industry in general–whether it was working as a producer/engineer at Sun Records during the birth of rock & roll, writing hit songs like “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” for his friend Johnny Cash, or helping to break the race barrier in country music by launching the career of Charley Pride. “Cowboy” Jack was not a star, but he was by all accounts an influencer, affecting the careers of everyone from Kris Kristofferson to Waylon Jennings to Roy Orbison to U2. He was particularly known for picking out potential music icons and helping to launch their careers.

Clement continued to work until shortly before his death. He recently produced an album for Irish singer Cathy Maguire, which is due out next year. He is scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 27. He will be greatly missed.

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About the Author


Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

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Posted in: Country Music


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