Singer-song­writer, son of Steve Earle dies at 38

Chicago Sun-Times - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - BY DAREL JEVENS, STAFF RE­PORTER djevens@sun­ | @dj­jevens Con­tribut­ing: USA To­day Net­work

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.

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