Charlie Sexton

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Charlie Sexton
Background information
Birth nameCharles Wayne Sexton
Born (1968-08-11) August 11, 1968 (age 55)
OriginAustin, Texas, U.S.
GenresBlues rock, rock, blues,
new wave (early work)
Occupation(s)Musician, producer
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1982–present
LabelsBack Porch Records, MCA Records

Charles Wayne Sexton (born August 11, 1968) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. Sexton is best known for his years as a guitarist in Bob Dylan's band, though also has become well known as a music producer. Sexton co-founded Arc Angels and created the Charlie Sexton Sextet. He was still a teenager when he gained fame for his 1985 hit, "Beat's So Lonely", from his debut album, Pictures for Pleasure.


When he was four Charlie and his mother relocated from San Antonio, Texas to Austin—where clubs such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Soap Creek Saloon, the Split Rail and Antone's exposed him to popular music. He moved back to Austin at age 12 after a brief period living outside Austin with his mother. When Charlie and his brother, Will Sexton, were still young boys, they were taught how to play guitar by Austin legend W. C. Clark—known as the "Godfather of Austin Blues."[1]

Early successes[edit]

Charlie's first band was the Groovemasters, fronted by Lubbock native R.C. Banks.[2] Under the moniker Little Charlie, he played about 16 dates with the Joe Ely Band in June 1982, after guitarist Jesse Taylor broke some bones in his hand. An observer at the time commented, "Several older guitar players are somewhat miffed but the chemistry is A+".[3]

Sexton performed under the name Guitar Charles Sexton on Juvenile Junk, a five-song EP by the group Maxwell (a.k.a. the Eager Beaver Boys) in 1983.[citation needed]

Sexton released his debut full-length album Pictures for Pleasure in 1985. Recorded in Los Angeles when he was 16, it yielded the Top-20 hit single "Beat's So Lonely".[4] Jon Pareles of the New York Times described him as "a teen idol singing David Bowie-style rock during the years he was promoted by MTV".[5] The album spent 34 weeks on Billboard magazine's Billboard 200 albums chart, reaching No. 15.[6] It also spawned three Australian Top-100 singles—with "Beat's So Lonely" peaking at No. 17.[7] The song was featured in the movie Some Kind of Wonderful, but was not included on the commercial soundtrack.

Sexton was an occasional opening act for David Bowie on his Glass Spider Tour in 1987, and appears on the Glass Spider video playing guitar on The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat".

While he was still in his late teens, Sexton became a popular session player—recording with artists such as Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, Don Henley, Jimmy Barnes and Bob Dylan.

He also recorded My Time with the artist who gave him his start—R.C. Banks.[8]

Other projects[edit]

Sexton worked for a time with his brother Will Sexton in 1988.[9] Will and the Kill released a 38-minute, self-titled album featuring both Sexton and Jimmie Vaughan. The album was recorded at Fire Station Studios[10] in San Marcos, Texas, with Joe Ely producing, and released via MCA Records.

Sexton (right) performing with Arc Angels in 2009

Sexton later contributed songs to various motion picture soundtracks, including True Romance and Air Americaand made a cameo fronting a bar band in Thelma & Louise.[11]

In 1992, Sexton formed the Arc Angels with Doyle Bramhall II (son of Doyle Bramhall, one of Stevie Ray Vaughan's writing partners), and Vaughan's Double Trouble rhythm section, composed of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris "Whipper" Layton.[5] The name originally was spelled as ARC Angels, named for the Austin Rehearsal Complex, where they practiced.[12] The blues-rock band released a self-titled album on Geffen Records that same year.[13] The Steven Van Zandt-produced disc was well received by fans and critics, but the band broke up in less than three years.

Sexton formed the Charlie Sexton Sextet in 1995[5] and recorded Under The Wishing Tree, released on MCA Records.[14] Although sales were disappointing, it was met with critical acclaim.[citation needed] In the meantime, Sexton continued to perform with other artists—appearing on such notable albums as Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and Shawn Colvin's Grammy-winning album A Few Small Repairs (uncredited).[citation needed]

Association with Bob Dylan[edit]

Sexton was hired by Bob Dylan to replace Bucky Baxter in 1999.[citation needed] Sexton had previously played with Dylan during a pair of Austin, Texas, concerts in 1991 and 1996, and on some demos recorded in 1983. Sexton's residency with Dylan from 1999 to 2002 brought him great exposure—with many critics singling out his interplay with Larry Campbell.[citation needed] The group, hailed as one of Dylan's best, recorded "Things Have Changed" (from the 2000 film Wonder Boys) and 2001's critically acclaimed[citation needed] album Love and Theft.

Duke Robillard took over on lead guitar in Dylan's touring band In 2013 but was let go after just 27 shows. Sexton and Colin Linden subsequently shared lead guitar duties for the band from July and into early August. By the European leg of the 2013 Never Ending Tour, Sexton again became the sole lead guitar player and remained so through the end of the touring year.[15]

Other activity[edit]

Sexton continued working with other artists; in 2001, he produced Double Trouble's Been a Long Time, and Jimmie Vaughan's album Do You Get the Blues? (2001).[16]

Sexton has produced numerous other works, including Edie Brickell's Volcano (2003), Jon Dee Graham's Great Battle (2004), Shannon McNally's Geronimo (2005), and Los Super Seven's Heard It on the X (2005).

He released his Cruel and Gentle Things album in late 2005.[17]

He has continued his producing albums for other artists—including Canadian singer-songwriter Peter Elkas' 2007 release, Wall of Fire.[18]

The Arc Angels began playing occasional reunion shows around Austin and Dallas in 2002. In 2009, the band announced it would tour with original members Layton and Bramhall, but not Shannon, who had health issues. The tour included England dates with Bramhall's sometime boss, Eric Clapton. The band also recorded the CD/DVD Living in a Dream, their second album in 17 years.[19]

Sexton performed the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" with Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris at the Hope for Haiti Now benefit concert and telethon for earthquake relief In 2010.[20] Released as a single, the song marked Sexton's second appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it reached No. 13.[21]

Charlie and Will Sexton made a rare appearance as a duo opening for Roky Erickson and Okkervil River at Austin's Paramount Theatre on April 24, 2010. Sexton was also the guest performer for Conan O'Brien's Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour stop in Austin on May 14, 2010. Sexton appeared with the band Spoon during their performance on the television show Austin City Limits. The episode premiered on PBS on October 9, 2010. Sexton performed on the song, "Who Makes Your Money".[22]

Charlie and Will Sexton, Jakob Dylan, Brady Blade and Dave Matthews recorded an album at Blade's studio in Shreveport, Louisiana in early 2013. The group named themselves the Nauts.[23][24] The album has not yet been released.

Sexton had a bit part in the Richard Linklater film Boyhood, released in 2014 to near-universal acclaim. (The Guardian ranked it at No. 3 on its 2019 list of the top 100 films of the 21st century.)[25] In 2018, Sexton appeared in the documentary film Carmine Street Guitars and played Townes Van Zandt in the movie Blaze. Also in 2018 he produced the album Writing Wrongs for the Last Knife Fighter at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas.[citation needed] He has also played on guitar on the last two Jack Ingram records.[citation needed]

Sexton appeared with Chuck Prophet during the latter's 2019 European tour, covering selections from the Rolling Stones' Some Girls album.[citation needed]

Sexton joined Elvis Costello & the Imposters on their Hello Again 2021 US tour, and continued the association on the band's Boy Named If, and Other Favorites 2022 tour as well.[26]

Sexton appeared on the 75th birthday celebration for David Bowie, produced by former Bowie keyboard player Mike Garson, on January 8, 2022.[citation needed]

In January 2022, the Arc Angels reunited to play four shows in Texas, with Eric Holden replacing Tommy Shannon on bass.[citation needed]


Studio albums


  1. ^ Stevie Ray Vaughan followed by W. C. Clark Blues Revue, PBS. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  2. ^ "Charlie Sexton Interview Part I: How To Session With Bob Dylan". Guitar International Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  3. ^ Rob Mahoney (October 7, 1979). "Ponty Bone's Journal". Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Beats So Lonely Retrieved 19 November 2022
  5. ^ a b c Jon Pareles (April 27, 1995). "In Performance; pop music. In the Third Phase Of a 10-Year-Old Career Charlie Sexton Sextet Mercury Lounge". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  6. ^ "Charlie Sexton". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 269. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  8. ^ "My Time - R.C. Banks | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Margaret Moser (April 27, 1995). "Charlie and Will Sexton; Family Circle". The Austin Chronicle. Vol. 16, no. 16. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  10. ^ Hendricks, Diana Finlay (March 1, 2013). Skanse, Richard (ed.). "Songs & Stories of San Marcos: Fire Station Studios". Lonestar Music Magazine. 6 (2).
  11. ^ Smyers, Darryl. "Charlie Sexton". Dallas Observer. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  12. ^ Tyner, Lindsey (January 12, 2011). "Founder's Message". SIMS Foundation. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  13. ^ The Arc Angels - Arc Angels Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved July 7, 2022
  14. ^ Charlie Sexton Sextet - Under the Wishing Tree Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved July 7, 2022
  15. ^ Rogovoy, Seth. Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet. Simon and Schuster (2009). ISBN 9781416559832 p. 277
  16. ^ "Do You Get the Blues? – Jimmie Vaughan – Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Charlie Sexton - Cruel and Gentle Things Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic, retrieved July 12, 2022
  18. ^ Khanna, Vish. "Woods, Wires and Whiskey" Archived April 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,, March 2007.
  19. ^ Gary Graff (March 3, 2009). "Arc Angels Fly Again". Billboard.
  20. ^ Glenn Gamboa. "'Hope for Haiti Now' sets records." Newsday. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Charlie Sexton: Chart History." Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Spoon on Austin City Limits". Austin City Limits. September 15, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  23. ^ "Dave Matthews forms new band The Nauts". Consequence. December 16, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  24. ^ "Dave Matthews Heads New Supergroup with Jakob Dylan". Rolling Stone. December 16, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  25. ^ "The 100 best films of the 21st century". the Guardian. September 13, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  26. ^ Reed, Ryan (February 15, 2022). "Elvis Costello and the Imposters Announce Summer 2022 Tour". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 12, 2022.

External links[edit]