Guy Charles Clark (November 6, 1941 – May 17, 2016) was an American folk singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, and performer. He released more than twenty albums, and his songs have been recorded by other artists including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, and Rodney Crowell. He won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album: My Favorite Picture of You.
Clark was born in Monahans, Texas. His family moved to Rockport, Texas in 1954. After he graduated high school in 1960, Guy spent almost a decade in Houston as part of the folk music revival in that city. He and his wife Susanna Clark eventually settled in Nashville, where he helped create the Americana music genre. His songs "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train" helped launch his career and were covered by numerous performers. The New York Times described him as "a king of the Texas troubadours", declaring his body of work "as indelible as that of anyone working in the Americana idiom in the last decades of the 20th century".
Clark had been a mentor to such other singers as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. He organized Earle's first job as a writer in Nashville. In the 1970s, the Clarks' home in Nashville was an open house for songwriters and musicians and it features in the film Heartworn Highways, an evocation of the songwriter scene in Nashville at that time.
Numerous artists have charted with Clark-penned tunes. In 1982, Bobby Bare made it to the Country Top Twenty with Clark's "New Cut Road". That same year, bluegrass leader Ricky Skaggs hit No. 1 with Clark's "Heartbroke", a song that permanently established his reputation as an ingenious songwriter. Among the many others who have covered Clark's songs are Vince Gill, who took "Oklahoma Borderline" to the Top Ten in 1985; The Highwaymen, who introduced "Desperados Waiting for a Train" to a new generation that same year; and John Conlee, whose interpretation of "The Carpenter" rode into the Top Ten in 1987. Clark is frequently referred to as The Fifth Highwayman.
Steve Wariner took his cover of Clark's "Baby I'm Yours" to No. 1 in 1988; Asleep at the Wheel charted with Clark's "Blowin' Like a Bandit" the same year. Crowell was Clark's co-writer on "She's Crazy for Leavin'", which in 1989 became the third of five straight #1 hits for Crowell. Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson cover Clark's "Out in the Parkin' Lot," co-written with Darrell Scott, on Paisley's Time Well Wasted CD. Jimmy Buffett obviously influenced by Jerry Jeff Walker's earlier quality cover of "Boats to Build" on 1997's "Cowboy Boots & Bathin Suits", then covered Clark's "Boats to Build" and "Cinco de Mayo in Memphis". Clark credits Townes Van Zandt as being a major influence on his songwriting. One of the most famous photos in Country Music history was taken on Clark's porch in 1972 of Clark, wife Susanna, Van Zandt, and Daniel Antopolsky by photographer Al Clayton. Clark and Van Zandt were best friends for many years until Van Zandt's death in 1997, and Clark has included a Van Zandt composition on most of his albums. In 1995, he recorded a live album with Van Zandt and Steve Earle, Together at the Bluebird Cafe, which was released in October 2001. Other live material can be found on his album Keepers.
In 2006, Clark released Workbench Songs. The album was nominated for "Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album" at the Grammy Awards. He also toured with Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, and John Hiatt in 2004, 2005 and 2007. In May 2008, Clark canceled four concerts after breaking his leg. After two months on crutches, he began to perform again on July 4 at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, where he appeared with Verlon Thompson. On June 20, 2009, Clark announced a new album titled Somedays the Song Writes You which was released on September 22, 2009. It features originals along with a Townes Van Zandt song titled "If I Needed You".
In December 2011, This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (a two-CD set) was released by Icehouse Music and produced by longtime fan Tamara Saviano. The CD won Americana Album of the Year at the 2012 Americana Music Honors & Awards. Clark won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2014 for My Favorite Picture of You.
The final song that Clark completed was co-written with Angaleena Presley and titled "Cheer Up Little Darling". It appeared on Presley's 2017 album Wrangled.
Clark was married to songwriter and artist Susanna Clark from 1972 until her death from cancer on June 27, 2012. Guy had one son, Travis Carroll Clark (December 18, 1966 - October 12, 2017), from his first marriage to folksinger Susan Spaw. On May 17, 2016, Clark died in Nashville following a lengthy battle with lymphoma.
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Date: June 2019.
Photo Credits: (1),(4) Album Covers, (2) Steve Earle, (3) Guy Clark, (5) Shawn Camp & Verlon Thompson (unknown/website).