Guy Clark had a long, storied career that makes him one of today’s national treasures and folk icons, serving as a role model to a younger class of maverick musicians.
His music defied conventional categorization, blending folk, country, and bluegrass. While this left record-label executives puzzled about how to market him, Guy Clark songs were recorded over the decades by dozens, if not hundreds, of artists – by the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Strait, and many more.
Of course, he’s been famous for his personal life too, which is full of complexity and nuances. So, let’s get to know more about one of the godfathers of the Texas singer-songwriter tradition. Keep on scrolling below to find out some facts about Guy Clark.
1. He’s a native of Monahans, Texas.
Born Guy Charles Clark on November 6, 1941, Clark was the son of Ellis, who was a trial lawyer that eventually became a country prosecutor and a theatrical aficionado mother Frances.
2. He grew up living in his grandmother’s thirteen-room hotel.
His father was in the Army while his mother worked, so he was raised mostly by his grandmother, who ran a thirteen-room hotel. It was frequented by air force crews, drifters, and oil field workers that fueled the imagination of young Clark. A wildcatter named Jack Prigg was a character he remembered from the hotel that became the subject of one of his popular songs, “Desperados Waiting for a Train.”
3. He was a high school star athlete.
Clark played different sports during his high school years, including basketball, football, and even track and field. In addition to that, Clark also participated in theater and was part of the school’s debate team. He was quite active and would often join and win science fairs.
4. He opened a guitar repair shop.
After his stint in the Peace Corps, where he underwent training in Puerto Rico, he briefly attended the University of Minnesota. However, Clark instead moved to Houston and opened a guitar repair shop with his friend, Minor Wilson.
5. He worked at various jobs.
This includes as an art director at a Houston TV station and a shipyard carpenter at various times.
6. He’s married to songwriter and painter Susanna Clark.
Clark first met Susanna – whose artwork famously appears on the album covers of her husband, Willie Nelson, among others – while he was dating her sister Bunny Talley. Four years later, Clark and Susanna got married. Though they went through terrible times, leading to them splitting for a number of years, the two never divorced.
7. He’s close friends with fellow Americana star Townes Van Zandt.
In fact, it was Townes Van Zandt‘s already prolific career that inspired Clark to pursue music full time. Van Zandt was also the best man during Clark and Susanna’s wedding. The three even lived together for several months.
8. He was not mainly interested in fame.
According to two-time Grammy Award winner Rodney Crowell, Clark did not come to the music industry to harvest stardom. “He was in the business of harvesting art and poetry,” said Crowell.
Truly, Guy Clark is one amazing artist!