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Jack Clement

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Jack Clement
Clement in 1978
Clement in 1978
Background information
Birth nameJack Henderson Clement
Also known as"Cowboy" Jack Clement
Born(1931-04-05)April 5, 1931
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedAugust 8, 2013(2013-08-08) (aged 82)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresRock and roll, country, folk, rockabilly
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, record producer
Years active1953–2013
LabelsSun, RCA, JMI Records, Mercury Records

Jack Henderson Clement (April 5, 1931[1] – August 8, 2013) was an American singer/ songwriter and record and film producer.[2] He was producer and engineer for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in its early days, and worked with Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.


Early life[edit]

Clement born born in 1931 in Memphis, Tennessee.[1] He grew up and went to school in Memphis, learned guitar and was performing at an early age, playing guitar and dobro. Before embarking on a career in music he served in the United States Marines.[3] In 1953 he made his first record for Sheraton Records in Boston. From 1953 to 1955 he studied at Memphis State University, where he gained the nickname "Cowboy". During his student days he played steel guitar with a local band.

In 1956, Clement was part of one of the seminal moments in rock-and-roll history when he was hired as a producer and engineer for Sam Phillips at Sun Records.[1] and worked with future stars such as Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.[1] He discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis while Phillips was on a trip to Florida.[1] One of those recordings, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On",[1] was selected in 2005 for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.


In 1957, Clement wrote the song "Ballad of a Teenage Queen", which became a crossover hit for Johnny Cash.[1] Other Cash hits written by Clement included "Guess Things Happen That Way",[1] which was No. 1 on the country chart and No. 11 on the pop chart in 1958, and the comedic "The One on the Right Is on the Left",[1] which was a No. 2 country and No. 46 pop hit in 1966. He produced, and composed the horn intro for, Cash's No. 1 hit, "Ring of Fire" in 1963.[3] Clement performed "Guess Things Happen That Way" on the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute on CMT (Country Music Television) in November 2003.

In 1958, Clement released the single "Ten Years",[4] which was covered by Johnny Western (1959), Rex Allen (1962), and Roger Mews. In 1959, he accepted an offer to work as a producer at RCA Victor in Nashville,[1] then the most important label in the record industry. In 1961, he moved to Beaumont, Texas, and with producer and publisher Bill Hall started the Gulf Coast Recording Studio and the Hall-Clement publishing company.[3]

Clement returned to Nashville in 1965 and became a significant figure in the country music business. He established a publishing business and founded the Jack Clement Recording Studios, where he produced projects for artists including Charley Pride and Ray Stevens.[1] In 1971 he co-founded JMI Records,[5] which launched the career of Don Williams.[6] Bill Hall took control of Hall-Clement in 1973 and sold it to the Welk Music Group in 1975.[7]

Songs written by Clement were recorded by singing stars such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins, Bobby Bare, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cliff Richard ("It'll Be Me"), Charley Pride, Tom Jones, Dickey Lee, Moon Mullican and Hank Snow.[1] Clement also produced albums by Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings.[1] He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame[3] in 1973.

Clement was involved in a few film projects as a singer or songwriter of soundtracks. He produced and part-financed the 1975 horror film, Dear Dead Delilah, which was a financial disaster and the last film performance by the actress Agnes Moorehead.[1]

In 1987, Clement was approached by Irish rock band U2 to record at Sun Studio in Memphis. He was not familiar with the band's music but agreed to arrange the session. The resulting work appeared on U2's next album, Rattle and Hum, ("When Love Comes to Town", with B.B. King; "Angel of Harlem", a tribute to Billie Holiday; and "Love Rescue Me", with backing vocals by Bob Dylan),[1] as well as the Woody Guthrie song "Jesus Christ", which was included on the 1988 album Folkways: A Vision Shared — A Tribute to Woody Guthrie & Leadbelly. Extracts from the sessions appeared in the 1988 film Rattle and Hum.

Later life and death[edit]

In 2005, a documentary about Clement, Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan, was created by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville. It was pieced together from Clement's home videos and interviews with peers, including Jerry Lee Lewis and Bono.

Clement hosted a weekly program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and the Music City Walk of Fame. On June 25, 2011, a fire destroyed his home and studio on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville.[8] Clement was unhurt, but many priceless recordings and memorabilia were lost. On April 10, 2013, it was announced he would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.[3]

Clement died at his home in Nashville on August 8, 2013. He had suffered from liver cancer.[9] He had a daughter, Alison, also a singer and writer; and a son, Niles, an engineer and photographer.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 503/4. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "Jack Clement Leads Varied Life In Music". Billboard. Vol. 84, no. 24. June 10, 1972. pp. JC-4.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Country Hall of Fame Elects Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare, Jack Clement". Cmt.com. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. ^ Billboard, June 2, 1958. p. 48: "Jack Clement ... has made his vocal debut on Sun with "Ten Years" and "Your Lover Boy",
  5. ^ "Clements' JMI Records Turns Best Foot Forward". Billboard. Vol. 83, no. 47. November 20, 1971. p. 82.
  6. ^ Stambler and Landon, Irwin and Grelun (1997). Country Music: The Encyclopedia. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 539. ISBN 0312151217.
  7. ^ "Bill Hall". Museumofthegulfcoast.org. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "Music Row legend's home destroyed in fire - WKRN, Nashville, Tennessee News, Weather and Sports |". Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  9. ^ Morris, Edward (August 8, 2013). "Cowboy Jack Clement, a Nashville Music Legend, Dies at Age 82". CMT. Retrieved August 9, 2013.

External links[edit]

Preceded by AMA Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting
Succeeded by