Singer-Songwriter Justin Townes Earle Dies at 38

Justin Townes Earle, an acclaimed singer-songwriter in the Americana/alt-country field and the son of Steve Earle, has died at age 38, according to an announcement on his social media accounts.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” read the statement on Facebook and Instagram. “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.
You will be missed dearly Justin.”

It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin. 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. You will be missed dearly Justin 💔 “I've crossed oceans Fought freezing rain and blowing sand I've crossed lines and roads and wondering rivers Just looking for a place to land” 📷 by @thejoshuablackwilkins

A post shared by Justin Townes Earle (@justintownesearle) on

No cause of death was immediately offered.

Fans and friends reacted to the news with shock and sadness as word began to spread Sunday night.

“RIP Justin Townes Earle,” tweeted the band the Head & the Heart. “We had the pleasure of playing a few shows together. He was such an immense songwriter and authentic soul. This year is a thief.”

The announcement of his death ended with a lyrical quote:

I’ve crossed oceans
Fought freezing rain and blowing sand
I’ve crossed lines and roads and wondering rivers
Just looking for a place to land

Earle was named in part after the legendary singer Townes Van Zandt, who was a friend and mentor of his famous father, Steve. He released his first EP, “Yuma,” in 2007, and was signed by Bloodshot and released his full-length debut, “The Good Life,” the following year..

In 2009, he won an award from the Americana Music Association for new and emerging artist of the year. He was again the recipient of a top honor when his song “Harlem River Blues” won song of the year in 2011.

Earle was open about having struggled with addiction issues from the time he was 14, and had multiple experiences with relapsing and rehab. His website had referred to “a newfound sobriety. ““One day I just realized it’s not cool to die young, and it’s even less cool to die after 30,” he said in a bio on his site, written when he was 32.

Reviewing his latest album for Rolling Stone last year, critic Jonathan Bernstein wrote, “From the beginning, Earle has been a relentlessly principled artist, fixed in his old-fashioned ways of what it means to be a 21st century singer-songwriter. The roots revival Earle helped usher in earlier this decade with albums like 2010’s Harlem River Blues has since largely passed him in favor of smoother-voiced traditionalists like Jason Isbell, and yet, on his latest, Earle remains more attached than ever to his own treasured lost causes: old-school folk storytelling, out-of-date pre-rock stylings, and the utter centrality of album making in the era of streaming. … The Saint of Lost Causes lives up to its title, serving as a refreshing reminder of what the songwriter has always done best.”

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