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Cowboy Jack Clement

  • Songwriter, producer, studio pioneer, publisher, artist, and executive
  • Worked with Chet Atkins, Charley Pride, Don Williams, Allen Reynolds, and Townes Van Zandt
  • Member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and Country Music Hall of Fame

During a career of treading thin lines between folk singers, polka bands, outlaw songwriters, and the commercial music industry, Cowboy Jack Clement was the visionary maverick that combined song publishing, music and film production, a record company, and recording studios decades before it became an industry trend. He scored major musical success as a songwriter, producer, recording studio pioneer, publisher, artist, and executive.

During a stint at Sun Records, Clement worked at the mixing board for recording sessions with Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In those years, he wrote two of Cash’s most enduring songs, "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" and "Guess Things Happen That Way." In Nashville, Clement financed a demo by then-unknown Charley Pride and persuaded Chet Atkins, whom he had worked for as a songwriter and producer, 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.

He 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.

Beyond country music, Clement produced three tracks for U2’s Rattle and Hum sessions 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 on Don Williams in 1972, nine years before MTV launched. Clement passed away in his Nashville home on August 8, 2013.

Inducted to the Music City Walk of Fame on April 19, 2009.