Justin Townes Earle: Americana star dies at 38, fans mourn demise of 'genius' and 'tremendous songwriter'

Justin Townes Earle's passing was confirmed on August 23, Sunday night, through a statement released on his official Facebook page

                            Justin Townes Earle: Americana star dies at 38, fans mourn demise of 'genius' and 'tremendous songwriter'
Justin Townes Earle (Getty Images)

Americana singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, the son of alternative country artiste singer Steve Earle, has died. He was 38 years of age and the reason behind death is unknown until now. His passing was confirmed on August 23, Sunday night in a statement released on his official Facebook page that read, “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.”

The Nashville born star was named after songwriter Townes Van Zandt. In an interview given to Rolling Stone last year, he said, “My mother hated Townes Van Zandt. My first name was supposed to be Townes, but my mother would not have it. She hated him because of the trouble Dad and him got into, but she still played his music." The American Music Award winner has his renditions like ‘Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me No’ listed at album number 37 on Rolling Stone's list of top 50 albums of 2012 with an annotation that followed: "The son of country-rock renegade Steve Earle has grown into a songwriter to rival his dad." His last album, ‘The Saint of Lost Causes’, was released in 2019.

Fans are mourning the singer's demise and recalling his glorious legacy. Songwriter Samantha Crain wrote in a heart-wrenching tweet, “My friend, Justin Townes Earle, has passed away. Such a tremendous songwriter...he took me on 2 tours and always treated me so kindly....he understood struggle, he understood joy...I saw him at the peaks and valleys of both through the 13 years I knew him...we will miss you JT.” 


Remembering him as an incredible writer, essayist and poet Hanif Abdurraqib tweeted, “Justin Townes Earle was such an incredible writer of narrative -- stories that flourished beyond the music they were laid over. The people and places in his songs always felt so touchable to me. Sad to hear the news of his passing.”  


Professor Mason B Williams tweeted that he was a stunning performer. “If you caught him on the right night he was just a stunning performer, too, the kind of artist who had the entire audience hanging on the next phrase.” 


A fan tweeted about his moment with the singer. “Had the pleasure of seeing him at a positive, sober time in his life. This is so sad. Was really rooting for him.  #ripjustintownesearle” 


A fan bemoaned, “Absolutely heartbreaking news!!” 


Other fans recalled his past albums that have made them more spirited over time. “When I found Harlem River Blues in 2011, I had all but abandoned guitar, music, and personal creativity. That album woke a fire in me that hasn’t gone out since. Justin made me fall in love with music again. And damn, he could make you feel for a character in less than 3 minutes.” Another fan wrote, “Justin Townes Earle was a damn genius, one of my favorite musicians, and brought me so much joy over the years. Rest In Peace justin. #justintownesearle”





The music star has played in two Nashville bands named Distributors, a rock band, and a ragtime and bluegrass combo, Swindlers. He has also performed at prestigious concerts and annual events like Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the historical WSM, South By Southwest (2008–2010, 2012), the Beacon Theater (May 2009), Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion (September 2009), Bonnaroo (2009) and more recently and the Nelsonville Music Festival (2008 and 2011) to name a few. 

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