Whimsical maverick Jack Clement — singer, producer, ringleader, writer of classic songs, discoverer of stars and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — died this morning at his Nashville home. He was 82, and suffered from liver cancer.
Known as "Cowboy Jack" in spite of his avowed dislike of horses and his propensity for wearing sneakers and Hawaiian shirts, the Country Music Hall of Famer leaves a singular legacy. At Sun Records in Memphis, he was the first to record Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. In Nashville, he brought Charley Pride to popular attention and desegregated country music in the process.
He wrote and produced historic records for best friend Johnny Cash, and he produced what many believe to be the highlight of the much-vaunted "Outlaw Movement" of 1970s Nashville, Waylon Jennings' "Dreaming My Dreams." He conceived and produced what was likely country music's the first story-oriented "concept album": Bobby Bare's "A Bird Named Yesterday," released in 1967. He arranged the horns on Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."