Influential singer/songwriter Guy Clark, a member of the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame, passed away Tuesday morning in Nashville following a lengthy decline in his overall health. An accomplished and highly respected elder statesman of country music, the productive Texan released 14 studio albums in a fruitful career that really took off in 1975 following the release of his still-brilliant debut album: Old No. 1.

Guy Clark: One of Texas Country's finest storytellers

Featuring contributions from from Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and a young Steve Earle, the LP included the timeless Texas Country staples "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for the Train." It also helped make the 'grittier,' less polished take on the genre (otherwise known as 'outlaw country') more popular in mainstream circles. 

Born in Monahans, Texas in November 1941, Clark enjoyed an outstanding run of unique and thought-provoking albums that lasted right up until 2013's Grammy Award winning My Favorite Picture of You, a tribute to his beloved wife of 40 years, Susanna. Two years older than her husband, Mrs. Clark, herself a proficient tunesmith, died of lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 73.

Guy Clark: A major musical influence silenced

Over the years, many fellow singers, including Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, George Strait and Willie Nelson, have dipped into the Guy Clark songbook, a unique and enduring collection that showcases the very best in American self-made music (he was a great friend and contemporary of another songwriting genius, the late Townes Van Zandt).

What is perhaps not so well known about this fine musician and insightful lyricist is that he drew much of his early inspiration from Mexican music, telling me in 2008 (when I interviewed him for my book Tequila, Señoritas and Teardrops: Musicians Discuss the Influence of Mexico on Country Music): "I grew up listening to Mexican music.

The woman that taught me guitar only played Mexican songs and in my first year I didn't learn anything in English."

Guy Clark: Recent health problems

During the last decade of his life Clark, also a talented painter and luthier, battled various health issues with the same quiet dignity with which he had carried himself throughout his years in the spotlight. He overcame cancer, suffered circulation problems and had both knees replaced.

His death may not have come as a shock therefore to those who knew him best, though it doesn't make the fact that we'll never get a new Guy Clark album any easier to bear. Still, the much-admired artist leaves behind an impressive musical legacy for future generations to discover and at least now he's with Susanna.

R.I.P. Guy Clark, November 6 1941 - May 17, 2016.

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