“Cowboy” Jack Clement, a legendary Nashville producer, singer, and songwriter, succumbed to cancer today at age 82, according to the Tennessean.
The Country Music Hall of Fame named Clement as a member in April, though his official induction was set for later this year. Though Clement might not be household name outside of country music, his many significant credits make it easy to wonder what took so long. Born in Memphis, Clement worked at Sun Records, recording early tracks by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins, as well as Jerry Lee Lewis’ signature “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
As CMT notes, Clement parted ways with Sun in 1959 and moved to Nashville to work for Chet Atkins at RCA Records. But Clement soon decamped for Beaumont, Texas. There, he convinced George Jones to record the landmark song “She Thinks I Still Care,” written by Clement’s Memphis friend Dickey Lee, as well as Clement’s own “Just Someone I Used to Know,” later popularized by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. Clement also produced Johnny Cash‘s trademark 1963 “Ring of Fire.”
Clement worked with Charley Pride, championing an African-American country singer in the heat of the ’60s civil rights movement. He also played a significant role in the ’70s outlaw-country music, co-producing Waylon Jenning’s 1975 landmark Dreaming My Dream. And Clement oversaw Bobby Bare’s 1967 country “concept album” A Bird Named Yesterday. Later, he co-produced a few songs from U2’s 1988 Rattle and Hum, including “Angel of Harlem.”