×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement Dead at 82

Sun Records Vet Produced for Charley Pride, U2, Million Dollar Quartet, George Jones

“Cowboy” Jack Clement, the producer, engineer, songwriter and singer whose career with Sun Records and RCA saw him man the mixing boards for a plethora of canonical rock and roll and country recordings, died Aug. 8 in his home in Nashville as a result of liver cancer. He was 82.

Though best known for his production work in Memphis and later Nashville, the lovably eccentric Clement also wrote hits for Johnny Cash (“Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” “Guess Things Happen That Way”), produced several tracks on U2’s “Rattle and Hum,” played ukulele in Hawaiian music groups, and produced the 1970s horror film “Dear Dead Delilah” over the course of a long and varied career.

Born in Whitehaven, Tenn., Clement spent time in the Marines and played in bluegrass groups before landing a job at Sam PhillipsSun Records at age 25. At Sun, he recorded tracks for Roy Orbison, Cash and Carl Perkins, and famously took the initiative to record “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by the then-unknown Jerry Lee Lewis while Phillips was away in Florida. Serendipitously, he also served as informal producer for the legendary “Million Dollar Quartet” sessions featuring Cash, Perkins, Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Fired by Phillips in 1959, Clement joined RCA Victor in Nashville, but soon decamped for Beaumont, Texas, where he and Bill Hall constructed the Gold Coast Recording Studio and founded the Hall-Clement music publishing concern. Clement produced the No. 1 country hit “She Thinks I Still Care” and wrote “Just Somebody I Used to Know” for George Jones in 1962, as well as producing Cash’s 1963 hit “Ring of Fire.”

After returning to Nashville permanently in 1965, Clement convinced Chet Atkins to sign former Negro League pitcher Charley Pride to a contract with RCA – over the course of 13 Clement-produced records, Pride became country music’s first black superstar. In 1975, Clement produced Waylon Jennings’ country No. 1 “Dreaming My Dreams,” an album that would become a vital touchstone for the burgeoning outlaw country movement. He also produced Townes Van Zandt’s “The Late Great Townes Van Zandt” in 1972, as well as projects for Louis Armstrong, Emmylou Harris and polka king Frank Yankovic.

In 1987, U2 approached Clement to record the tracks “When Love Comes to Town” and “Angel of Harlem” in Sun Studio, which Clement agreed to do despite not having heard of the group.

A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Clement was set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year. In January, he was feted at a Nashville gala that included tributes from the likes of Taylor Swift, Bono and Bill Clinton.

Clement is survived by two children.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    Judge Sides With Michael Jackson Estate in 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute

    A federal judge is leaning towards granting the Michael Jackson estate’s move to take HBO to arbitration in its dispute over the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the [...]

  • Chuck Dauphin receives the CMA Media

    Country Music Journalist Chuck Dauphin Dies at 45

    Chuck Dauphin, the undisputed sweetheart of country music journalism, died Wednesday night at 45. Dauphin was the rare journalist who could claim the title “CMA Award winner.” The Country Music Association bestowed him with its CMA Media Achievement Award backstage during a lull in the telecast in 2014. A writer and radio personality who was [...]

  • JOHNNY CASH, with BOB DYLAN, c.

    Bob Dylan to Release Country-Themed Box Set, ‘Travelin’ Thru, 1967-69,’ Featuring Johnny Cash

    Columbia Records and Sony catalog division Legacy Recordings will release the boxed set “Bob Dylan (featuring Johnny Cash) – Travelin’ Thru, 1967 – 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15” on Nov. 1. The set collects previously unreleased recordings from Dylan’s country-themed albums of the era, focusing on previously unavailable recordings made with Johnny Cash and unreleased [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld photographed by Art Streiber

    Hailee Steinfeld Drops New Song From Apple TV Series ‘Dickinson’

    Oscar-nominated actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld dropped a new song on Thursday, “Afterlife (Dickinson)” from the upcoming Apple TV+ series “Dickinson,” in which she stars and serves as an executive producer. According to the announcement, Steinfeld drew lyrical inspiration from her character, Emily Dickinson, and the themes and ideas in many of her literary works. [...]

  • 'David Foster: Off the Record' Review:

    Toronto Film Review: 'David Foster: Off the Record'

    By the early 1970s, as the counterculture was dissolving and reconfiguring, there were new pop-star archetypes on the horizon that we still tend to think of — the glam rocker, the sensitive singer-songwriter, the hair-band metal strutter, the prog-rock wizard, the belting pop chanteuse, the punk rocker. But there was another figure of the era [...]

  • does self-described "family brands" business Hasbro

    With Hasbro Acquisition, Is eOne Planning to Offload Family-Unfriendly Properties?

    Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of eOne in August instantly put the Canadian toy giant in the league of major entertainment and content companies thanks to eOne’s arsenal of IP assets in music, television and film. But does the self-described “family brands” business that’s home to The Game of Life and My Little Pony align with [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content