Justin Townes Earle Dead at 38

The singer-songwriter shared 'The Saint of Lost Causes' last year

Photo: Joshua Black Wilkins

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Aug 24, 2020

Justin Townes Earle — the American singer-songwriter and son of Steve Earle — has died. News of the artist's passing was confirmed in a statement through his official Facebook page this evening. A cause of death was not revealed. He was 38.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin," the statement reads. "So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys. You will be missed dearly Justin."

Born in Nashville in 1982, Justin Townes Earle was raised by his mother and was given his middle name by his father in honour of friend and fellow songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Earle began his music career playing with Nashville bands the Distributors and the Swindlers, while also performing alongside his father's band, the Dukes

Earle struggled with addiction early in life, and lost a publishing deal in his teens before being given the boot from the Dukes.

"The last thing in the world that anybody wants to do is listen to their parents," Earle would reflect in 2015. "But my father has been sober for 18, 19 years — if he can do it, anybody can damn well do it, believe me. On my early records, there are songs I wrote during the period when I was very intoxicated all the time but there was no way I could have made those records back then. I definitely had to be sober to figure out who I was as an artist and to have cohesion in my life."

Earle would make his debut with EP Yuma in 2007 and signed to Bloodshot Records for follow-up full-length The Good Life in 2008. He would continue on that project-a-year pace for the next two years, releasing Midnight at the Movies in 2009 and Harlem River Blues in 2010.

His fourth album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now followed in 2012, while Earle produced Wanda Jackson's album Unfinished Business that same year. He would move to Vagrant Records for 2014's Single Mothers, which he followed with companion LP Absent Fathers in 2015.

Earle delivered his final two albums through New West Records, releasing Kids in the Street in 2017 and The Saint of Lost Causes last year.

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