record producer video feature
is truly one of the most interesting and unique video
features that we've ever had the pleasure to record
and we hope that you enjoy the three videos covering
Cowboy Jack Clement's career as much as we have enjoyed
putting them together.
Picture by Niles Clement
Cowboy Jack Clement had decided to retire from the music
business in 1957, his place in the history of rock 'n'
roll would have been secure. While recording the first
songs by Jerry Lee Lewis, he suggested that the musicians
take a break from the country-oriented material they
were working on. So, for fun, they loosened up by jamming
on some stuff they had been doing in their "live"
shows. The levels were set, and as the band launched
into "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On", Jack
hit the red button, mixing it on the fly. One take.
Blam. They didn't even listen back until after they
had finished the rest of the session. In a matter of
weeks that raw sound was blasting out of car radios
and black-and-white TVs toward the top of the charts,
inspiring countless budding musicians from John Lennon
to Bruce Springsteen on down.
course, Cowboy Jack Clement was just getting started.
Never one to quit while ahead, he went on to play a
pivotal role in the careers of some of the brightest
stars of country, folk, and rock music. And,guess what
- he ain't finished yet ...
Clement's career in American popular music is unparalleled
- from the signature horn riff of "Ring of Fire"
to the wild abandon of the Killer doing "Great
Balls of Fire", from Satchmo to Bono, from working
with Pop Stoneman, whose first recordings were on Edison
cylinders, to deejaying a show on satellite radio. That
pretty much covers it.
one of the roles detailed below would have been a noteworthy
career by itself. Oh, and he also founded a couple record
companies, Fernwood, a garage in Memphis where the 1959
hit "Tragedy" was recorded, and JMI, Jack's
early '70s label that launched the career of Don Williams.
Clement has scored major musical success as a songwriter,
producer, recording studio pioneer, publisher, artist
and executive. He was born April 5, 1931, in Whitehaven,
Tenn., near Memphis and enlisted in the Marines as a
teenager. After four years of service, he toured in
a bluegrass band, then returned to Memphis in 1954.
He found work at Sun Records and worked at the mixing
board for recording sessions with Roy Orbison, Carl
Perkins, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis.Another
Sun artist, Elvis Presley, even opened for Clement at
the Memphis club The Eagle's Nest. In those years, he
wrote two of Cash's most enduring songs, "Ballad
of a Teenage Queen" and "Guess Things Happen
being fired by Sam Phillips at Sun, he moved to Nashville
to work for Chet Atkins, then relocated to Beaumont,
Texas. There, he met George Jones and convinced him
to cut the song, "She Thinks I Still Care."
In 1965, Clement returned to Nashville and financed
a demo by then-unknown Charley Pride and persuaded Atkins
to sign him to RCA. Clement also wrote Pride's first
two hits, "Just Between You and Me" and "I
Know One," and produced Pride's first 13 albums
for the label.
launched the solo career of Don Williams through his
JMI record label, a project that also introduced Allen
Reynolds as a record producer. Reynolds later produced
Garth Brooks, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare
and Kathy Mattea. In addition, Clement was Townes Van
Zandt's first publisher, and Bob McDill also wrote for
Clement's publishing company. Clement released his own
album, All I Want to Do in Life in 1978.Beyond country
music, Clement produced three tracks for U2's Rattle
and Hum sessions in Memphis and also produced an album
for Louis Armstrong.
other ventures, he built four of Nashville's leading
studios, produced a cult classic horror film and made
perhaps the world's first music video on Don Williams
in 1972, nine years before MTV launched.
now operates out of his spacious Nashville home with
a fully equipped studio upstairs, a pool in the side
yard, hammock out back and all the rooms wired for filming.
Inside he juggles the sessions he's producing on Eddy
Arnold, soundtrack work with T Bone Burnett for the
new Johnny Cash film, Walk the Line, the Robert Gordon-led
film crew documenting his life, reading selections from
his work-in-progress autobiography and training Eugene,
"the world's smartest cat."
thanks to Cowboy Jack for giving us so much time and Jack Hale for helping make
this feature possible. Special thanks to Johnny Jaskot
of Babblefish.com for his amazing interview and direction.
Cowboy Jack Clement's fantastic website here.