Singer-Songwriter Guy Clark Dead at 74
Legendary singer and songwriter Guy Clark has died. After several years of health problems, the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Famer and Grammy winner died on Tuesday morning (May 17) at age 74.
Clark's most famous song is "Desperados Waiting for a Train," which he wrote about a man named Jack Prigg. Prigg was living in Clark's grandmother's hotel while Clark lived there with his family as a boy in Texas. However, he wouldn't write the song until he was 20 years old and living in east Nashville.
Much like fellow country poet Kris Kristofferson, Clark's education didn't build to his career in songwriting. Growing up in Rockport, Texas, he was an accomplished athlete, debater and actor. He spent time in the Peace Corps, then moved to Houston and then California, taking jobs at guitar repair shops to get by. Early friends included struggling songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker and Kay Oslin. The accomplished luthier would sign a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar in the early '70s. That came with a move to Music City.
As a solo artist, Clark didn't find too much commercial success, but like Kristofferson, the country music community took notice of the young Texan. A list of artists who've recorded his songs is expansive: Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson ("Out In the Parking Lot"), Steve Wariner and Kenny Chesney. The title track of Chesney's 2010 Hemingway's Whiskey album was a Guy Clark song. Vince Gill would call Clark the greatest storyteller of all.
Along the way Clark became a songwriting mentor for artists like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. His home with wife Susanna was a sanctuary for writers, folk singers and artists. Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are two more who called him a friend.
Susanna died in 2012 after a battle with lung cancer. Clark toured very little afterward and began to suffer his own health setbacks, including a battle with cancer, according to the Tennessean. He leaves behind a son named Travis from his first marriage, two grandchildren and numerous other friends, family members and artists who knew and respected him.
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