Singer-songwriter, son of Steve Earle dies at 38
Musician Justin Townes Earle, an accomplished singer-songwriter and son of the acclaimed country rocker Steve Earle, has died at age 38.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” said a message on his social media pages. “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.”
No cause of death was revealed. Prominent fans expressed their grief on social media. “What a loss,” tweeted author Stephen King. “He was always kind to me and he’s gone too soon,” wrote rising country music star Margo Price.
Like his father, Mr. Earle struggled openly with addiction throughout much of his career. He began using drugs at age 14 and “by the time I was 16 I was completely off the rails,” he told the roots music magazine No Depression.
In his website biography he revealed that he’d done multiple stints in rehab before realizing “it’s not cool to die young, and it’s even less cool to die after 30.”
Mr. Earle bore the names of two musical giants — the last name from his father, the middle name taken from Townes Van Zandt, a singer-songwriter who mentored Steve Earle.
He often was lumped into the category of
“Americana” artists and was honored twice by the Americana Music Association: as the year’s best emerging artist in 2009, and with the song of the year award for his composition “Harlem River Blues” in 2011.
He first debuted solo music in 2007, signing to Chicago’s Bloodshot Records and releasing a debut EP, “Yuma.”
Chicago weighed heavily in the songbook of the Nashville native, a Cubs fan who moved from Tennessee to Chicago in 2000.
“I just went to visit [the city] and do a show there and didn’t want to leave,” he told the Sun-Times in 2017. “It definitely played a role in my early development as an artist, for sure.”
Justin Townes Earle (shown in 2017), who moved to Chicago in 2000, bore the names of two musical giants.