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Died On This Date (January 1, 1997) Townes Van Zandt / Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on January 1, 2010

Townes Van Zandt
March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997

Although he’s not a household name, Townes Van Zandt has earned a place alongside Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Guy Clark if they ever build a Mount Rushmore of Texas singer-songwriters.  Call it folk; call it country; call it Americana;  call it what you will, but Van Zandt was one of the greatest.  Van Zandt was born into oil money in Fort Worth.  His family helped found Fort Worth and even had a county named after them in 1848.  By the time Van Zandt was in college, he had developed a drinking problem, and after failing to get into the Air Force due to what a doctor diagnosed as acute manic depression, he decided to give up school and concentrate on his song writing.  And thanks to that, we now have “If I Needed You,” “No Place To Fall,” and of course, “Pancho and Lefty,” the number one hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.  Despite all the accolades and money, he continued to live the life of a vagabond, playing dumpy bars and living in cheap motels or on friends’ couches.  He was also notorious for his exsessive consumption of drugs and alcohol.  He tried many times to beat it, but failed each time.  Van Zandt’s  final days are too heart-wrenching to rehash here.  He ultimately passed away at the age of 52 as a result of what the substance abuse did to his body.

Watch Townes bring a man to tears with a song.

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7 Responses to “Died On This Date (January 1, 1997) Townes Van Zandt / Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter”

  1. You might find ‘Introducing Townes Van Zandt Via The Great Unknown’ interesting, out Oct. 26th on Forthesakeofthesong. More info here:
    http://www.myspace.com/thetownesvanzandtproject

    Thanks! Jenny

  2. I did not know this man. Now, I will wait around to die.

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