In Memoriam: Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle, the prolific Americana singer-songwriter and the son of music legend Steve Earle, has died at the age 38.
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Justin Townes Earle performs at City Winery on January 25, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images.

Justin Townes Earle performs at City Winery on January 25, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images.

Justin Townes Earle, the prolific Americana singer-songwriter and the son of music legend Steve Earle, has died at the age 38. His passing was confirmed on his Facebook account. “It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” the statement on his page read. “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 given.

Justin was appropriately named for his father’s hero Townes Van Zandt, as he began his professional journey through music when he was just in his teens. There in bands across Nashville he cut his teeth, eventually touring with his father in the Dukes. He was fired from the band due to drug use and later spoke openly about his experience with heroin addiction, becoming sober as a solo performer. This newly gained focus allowed his creativity to truly blossom. What followed was an output of masterful music that would take most artists a lifetime to compile. His work was widely celebrated and he won the Americana Music Honors & Awards “New And Emerging Artist Of The Year” in 2009. Justin followed that up in 2011 by winning song of the year for "Harlem River Blues," a bluesy rocker about drowning himself in New York City's Harlem River.

Earle released his debut in 2007, the EP Yuma. This was followed in 2008 by his first album The Good Life. He released eight albums in total, most recently 2019’s The Saint of Lost Causes. The Facebook statement ended with lines from his 2014 song “Looking for a Place to Land”: “I’ve crossed oceans / fought freezing rain and blowing sand,” it read. “I’ve crossed lines and roads and wondering rivers / just looking for a place to land.” Earle leaves behind his wife, Jenn Marie, and his 3-year-old daughter, Etta St. James.

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