Yesterday we lost one of the music industry’s true pioneers, and a man who had an enormous influence over country and rock n’ roll in general, as well as an on-going and lasting effect over any musicians he ever encountered.
I had the great fortune of doing a large part of my album Toolin’ Around in Nashville at Jack’s recording facility which at the time was called “Clementvision.” I got to cut tracks there with none other than Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Roy Husky Jr., Albert Lee, Kenny Malone and Bill Lloyd , and every day spent at Jack’s was certainly a lesson in what the real music business was about!
This was a place where music truly lived, and the kinds of feelings and depth of the craft you felt there along with the comradery was almost enough to make me pull up my roots and literally move me and my family right down to Nashville! This was right around 1991-92, and this was a studio still very much doing things in the “old-fashioned” way, as far as recording on tape was concerned. You still listened back on GIGANTIC speakers that made everything sound “good”, and the sessions always had a super relaxed and laidback feel to them. In other words, really everyone was always so glad just to be there, and we all had a sense of history by being with Jack!
One thing that was always fun and is documented among other things in my soon to be reissued Toolin’ Around CD and DVD, was how before any “official” music was to take place at Jack’s studio, you had to go into his office, grab an acoustic guitar and play along with him on any number of cool songs. The one that absolutely had to be played was always “Tennessee Waltz,” which he loved to sing, and did it quite well, I might add! This song always seemed to set the tone for the day, and it also let you know exactly where you were! “You were with the great Jack Clement, and don’t you forget it!!”
He would then go on to take either his ukulele or Dobro off the wall and rip into some great and fun old Hawaiian tunes that you simply had to wonder “where on earth did he get these songs!?” He would always shout out words of encouragement or direction as we played these tunes together such as during Tennessee Waltz; “put that nice IV chord in there for me…”, or at the end of the Hawaiian tune “Little Grass Shack” he’d say, “gimme that big 6th chord at the end there!”
Whatever and whenever it was, you knew you were in for a good, rewarding and educating time when you were in the presence of “Cowboy” Jack Clement, and someday soon I hope to reissue that “Toolin’ Around” dvd so you can see me and Duane Eddy just having a grand old time jamming with Jack, and as always setting the mood of the day to be a good one!!
Jack Clement was truly a one of a kind, and they broke the mold when they made him. We have lost a giant of the industry, and a man of warmth, grace and true class who had such an important historical part in the history of country, rockabilly and rock n’ Roll music. We’ll miss him forever, but the world is a much finer place that he was here! Love and miss you, Cowboy!