LEGENDARY PRODUCER AND songwriter 'Cowboy' Jack Clement was a man with a pioneering spirit and fine reputation for mischief. Born in Memphis on April 5, 1931, Clement began making music at an early age before moving into studio work with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in 1956. It was there that he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and brought him to the Sun label. He also began producing a number of artists including Johnny Cash for whom he wrote Ballad Of A Teenage Queen in '57 as well as later producing Ring Of Fire, a track for which he also arranged the distinctive horn parts. The pair developed a life-long friendship as captured in the home movie footage below.
Clement’s reputation as a songwriter and producer grew throughout the 1960s, as did his ability to spot talent – a point borne out when he cut across country music's race barrier by championing Charley Pride. He was also the first person to befriend Kris Kristofferson when he moved to Nashville in the mid ‘60s.
His ability to work with atypical artists continued in the 1970s when he produced records by Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zant. Such was his standing among musicians, that in 1987 U2 asked him to co-produce a number of sessions which yielded three tracks on Rattle And Hum including When Love Comes To Town - their hit with B.B. King.
More recently Clement had been hosting a regular weekly radio show in which he regaled listeners with episodes from a life well-lived. Check out the Philosophy section of Clement's site and you’ll find a number of humourous pronouncements on subjects as diverse as food, his fractious meeting with Waylon Jennings and even Shakespeare.
He died at home in Nashville, Tennessee, on the morning of August 8, having battled liver cancer. He leaves behind a considerable legacy.