Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt (John Townes Van Zandt, born at Fort Worth, Texas, March 7, 1944 and died at Smyrna, Tennessee, January 1, 1997). He was a country and folk singer and poet. While alive, Van Zandt was labelled as a cult musician. Though he had a small and devoted fanbase, he never had a successful album or single, and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print. ...show more

Townes Van Zandt (John Townes Van Zandt, born at Fort Worth, Texas, March 7, 1944 and died at Smyrna, Tennessee, January 1, 1997). He was a country and folk singer and poet. While alive, Van Zandt was labelled as a cult musician. Though he had a small and devoted fanbase, he never had a successful album or single, and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print.

Many of his songs, including "If I Needed You," "To Live Is To Fly," and "No Place to Fall" are considered standards of their genre. AllMusic has called him "one of the greatest country and folk artists of his generation." In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song "Pancho and Lefty", scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Despite achievements like these, the bulk of Van Zandt's life was spent performing in dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins and on friends' couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism and his tendency to tell tall tales.

Van Zandt died on New Year's Day, 1997 from health problems stemming from years of substance abuse. The 2000s saw a resurgence of interest in Van Zandt. During the decade, two books, a documentary film and a number of magazine articles about the singer were created. Van Zandt's music has been covered by such notable and varied musicians as Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, and The Meat Puppets. ...show less