This (Belated) Day in Music History

We got a little caught up yesterday and didn’t get to this in time, but feel it’s too important not to note.  Yesterday was Cowboy Jack Clement‘s birthday, born April 5, 1931. Clements has been perhaps one of the most influential people in country music history that too many people know nothing about.

Well, we’re here to help educate you on the man who wrote songs for Johnny Cash, was Townes Van Zant’s first publisher, produced tracks by Louis Armstrong and U2 and continues to facilitate greatness in those he works with, and is apparently one helluva ballroom dancer to boot.

Throughout his career Jack Clement has scored major musical success as a songwriter, producer, recording studio pioneer, publisher, artist and executive. He was born April 5, 1931, in Whitehaven, Tenn., near Memphis and enlisted in the Marines as a teenager.

After four years of service, he toured in a bluegrass band, then returned to Memphis in 1954. He found work at Sun Records and worked at the mixing board for recording sessions with Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. Another Sun artist, Elvis Presley, even opened for Clement at the Memphis club The Eagle’s Nest.

In those years, he wrote two of Cash’s most enduring songs, “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen That Way.”

After being fired by Sam Phillips at Sun, he moved to Nashville to work for Chet Atkins, then relocated to Beaumont, Texas. There, he met George Jones and convinced him to cut the song, “She Thinks I Still Care.”  In 1965, Clement returned to Nashville and financed a demo by then-unknown Charley Pride and persuaded Atkins to sign him to RCA. Clement also wrote Pride’s first two hits, “Just Between You and Me” and “I Know One,” and produced Pride’s first 13 albums for the label.

Clement launched the solo career of Don Williams through his JMI record label, a project that also introduced Allen Reynolds as a record producer. Reynolds later produced Garth Brooks, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare and Kathy Mattea. In addition, Clement was Townes Van Zandt’s first publisher, and Bob McDill also wrote for Clement’s publishing company. Clement released his own album, All I Want to Do in Life in 1978.

Beyond country music, Clement produced three tracks for U2’s Rattle and Hum sessions in Memphis and also produced an album for Louis Armstrong. In other ventures, he built four of Nashville’s leading studios, produced a cult classic horror film and made perhaps the world’s first music video of Don Williams in 1972, nine years before MTV launched.

Clement now operates out of his spacious Nashville home — with a fully equipped studio upstairs, a pool in the side yard, hammock out back and all the rooms wired for filming.

Practically everything can be found in his work: cleverness, insight, poetry, solidity, perfect blending, and most importantly, honesty, reality, and objectivity. Clement’s work  is probably the best description of Clement, and here’s some samples.

“Just a Girl I Used to Know”

“Some Cowboys Hate Horses”

From the Documentary “Shakespeare was a Big George Jones Fan: Cowboy Jack Clement’s Home Movies”

But it doesn’t stop there. Those of you with Sirius/XM Radio can check out The Cowboy Jack Clements show on Saturdays from 2pm – 6pm EST on the Outlaw Country channel.

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