Singer-Songwriter Marty Stuart On Cowboy Jack Clement, His Friend For More Than Three Decades

This appeared on - August 9, 2013

“If you go to the songwriting industry, the producing industry, the artist industry or the publishing industry, you’re going to run into Cowboy’s design along the way. He was an original at every turn, and he never lost the fun factor, the zaniness.

“I met Cowboy after Lester Flatt passed away (in 1979). I had been in Lester’s band, and now I needed a job. I had a buddy named Danny Ferrington who was building a guitar for Johnny Cash. I said, ‘I want to go with you when you deliver that guitar.’ He finished the guitar, and the delivery was at Cowboy’s place on Belmont Boulevard. The door swung open and Cash was playing Cowboy’s Gibson guitar and singing ‘The Wabash Cannonball,’ while Cowboy was dancing with a martini on his head. This was early afternoon.

“The last time I saw Cowboy was about a month ago. Me and (Country Music Hall of Famer, and Stuart’s wife) Connie Smith went over late one afternoon and knocked on the door. Cowboy’s lady, Aleene, let us in. Cowboy got out of bed, wearing his Elvis Presley bathrobe. I had out his guitar when he walked in the room, and we jammed and sang songs, and he played recordings he’d made down through the years. Some of it was stuff we’d never heard. The last of it was Johnny Cash doing ‘Guess Things Happen That Way.’ That day was all about songs and music and friendship. I left there knowing it was a great way to say goodbye.”

-- Marty Stuart

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