Charlie Sexton

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Charlie Sexton
Charlie Sexton.jpg
Background information
Birth nameCharles Wayne Sexton
Born (1968-08-11) August 11, 1968 (age 53)
OriginSan Antonio, Texas, U.S.
GenresRock, blues, folk,
new wave (early work)
Years active1982–present
LabelsBack Porch Records, MCA Records
Associated actsBob Dylan, David Bowie, Arc Angels, Los Super Seven

Charles Wayne Sexton (born August 11, 1968) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Sexton is best known for the 1985 solo hit "Beat's So Lonely," for his work with the band Arc Angels, and for his membership of Bob Dylan's backing band.


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 Blues Club exposed him to popular music. He moved back to Austin at the age of 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 the local Austin legend W. C. Clark—known as the "Godfather of Austin Blues."[1]

Early successes[edit]

Charlie's first band was called "The Groovemasters." The band was fronted by Lubbock native R.C. Banks.[2] Under the moniker "Little Charlie" he played around 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—under the name "Guitar Charles Sexton"—appeared on a five-song EP by the group Maxwell (a.k.a. the Eager Beaver Boys) in 1983. Entitled Juvenile Junk the EP's credits list the following musicians: Maxwell (lead vocals), Charles Sexton (guitars, backup vocals), Alex Buttersworth Napier (bass, backup vocals, maracas), and Gary Muddkatt Smith (drums, backup vocals, claves).[citation needed]

Sexton released his debut full-length album Pictures for Pleasure in 1985. Recorded in Los Angeles when he was 16 years old it yielded the Top 20 hit single "Beat's So Lonely." 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."[4] The album spawned three Australian-Top 100 singles—with "Beat's So Lonely" peaking at number 17.[5] "Beat's So Lonely" featured prominently in the hit movie "Some Kind of Wonderful" but was not included in the commercial soundtrack. [6]

Charlie was an occasional opening act for David Bowie on his Glass Spider Tour in 1987. Sexton appears on the Glass Spider home 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 Charlie became a popular session player—recording with artists such as Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, Don Henley, Jimmy Barnes and Bob Dylan. He eventually followed up his debut with the self-titled album Charlie Sexton-- recorded when he was 20 years old.[citation needed]

He also recorded with the artist that gave him his start—playing on R.C. Banks' "My Time Album."[7]

Other projects[edit]

Sexton worked for a time with his brother Will Sexton in 1988.[8] Will and the Kill released a 38-minute self-titled album featuring both Sexton and Jimmie Vaughan. The album was recorded at the Fire Station Studio and produced by Joe Ely 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 America-- and made a cameo fronting a bar band in Thelma & Louise.[citation needed]

Sexton, along with Doyle Bramhall II (son of Stevie Ray Vaughan's writing partner Doyle Bramhall), Tommy Shannon, and Chris "Whipper" Layton (both from Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan's famed rhythm section) formed the Arc Angels in 1992,.[4] The blues/rock band recorded and released a self-titled album on Geffen Records that same year.[citation needed] The Steven Van Zandt-produced disc was well received by fans and critics. The band broke up in less than three years.

Next was the Charlie Sexton Sextet in 1995.[4] Under The Wishing Tree was released on MCA Records. Although sales were disappointing it was met with critical acclaim. 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. Sexton had previously played with Dylan during a pair of Austin, Texas, concerts in 1991 & 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. Hailed as one of Dylan's best bands the group recorded Things Have Changed (from the 2000 film Wonder Boys) and 2001's critically acclaimed 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 began lead guitar duties for the band from July and into early August. By the third leg of the 2013 Never Ending Tour which took place in Europe Sexton again became the sole lead guitar player and remained so through the end of the touring year.[9]

Other activity[edit]

Sexton continued working with other artists—producing Double Trouble's Been a Long Time and Lucinda Williams's Essence--both released in 2001. He is credited as the producer of Jimmie Vaughan's album Do You Get the Blues? (2001).[10]

Sexton has produced numerous other works: 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 latest album Cruel and Gentle Things in late 2005,

He has continued his record-producing role for other artists—including 2007's Wall of Fire by Canadian Peter Elkas.[11]

The Arc Angels began playing occasional "reunion" shows around Austin and Dallas in 2002, In 2009 it was announced the band—with original members Layton and Bramhall (but not Shannon), would begin touring extensively – including a stint with Eric Clapton in England – and recording a second album, their first new studio album in 17 years.[12]

Charlie played the guitar and sang alongside Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris—performing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the Hope For Haiti Now Benefit concert In 2010.[13] The song marked Sexton's second appearance in Billboard's Hot 100 with a peak at No. 13.[14]

Charlie and Will Sexton made a rare appearance as a duo—opening for Roky Erickson and Okkervil River at the Paramount Theatre in Austin 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. Charlie appeared as a guest guitarist on the band Spoon's performance on the television show Austin City Limits. The episode premiered on PBS on October 9, 2010. Sexton appeared on one song, "Who Makes Your Money".[15]

Sexton, Jakob Dylan, Brady Blade, Dave Matthews, and Sexton's brother Will recorded an album at Blade's studio in Shreveport, Louisiana in early 2013. The group subsequently became The Nauts. A release date for the album has not yet been announced.[16]

Sexton had a bit part in the movie Boyhood In 2014. In 2018 he 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. He has played on guitar on the last two Jack Ingram records.

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

Sexton appeared with Elvis Costello & the Imposters as part of their Hello Again 2021 US tour.

Sexton appeared on the 75th Birthday Celebration for David Bowie, produced by former Bowie keyboard player Mike Garson on January 8, 2022.

In January of 2022 The ArcAngels reformed to play four shows in Texas, with Eric Holden replacing Tommy Shannon on bass.


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. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) - IMDb, retrieved February 10, 2022
  7. ^ "My Time - R.C. Banks | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  8. ^ Margaret Moser. "Charlie and Will Sexton; Family Circle". The Austin Chronicle. Vol. 16, no. 16. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  9. ^ Rogovoy, Seth. Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet. Simon and Schuster (2009). ISBN 9781416559832 p. 277
  10. ^ "Do You Get the Blues? – Jimmie Vaughan – Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Khanna, Vish. "Woods, Wires and Whiskey" Archived April 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,, March 2007.
  12. ^ Gary Graff (March 3, 2009). "Arc Angels Fly Again". Billboard.
  13. ^ Glenn Gamboa. "'Hope for Haiti Now' sets records." Newsday. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Charlie Sexton: Chart History." Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Spoon on Austin City Limits". Austin City Limits. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  16. ^ "Dave Matthews Heads New Supergroup with Jakob Dylan". Rolling Stone. December 16, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2015.

External links[edit]