Guy Clark, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, dead at 74

He mentored generation of renowned musicians

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark, who helped mentor a generation of songwriters and wrote hits like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” has died. He was 74.

Clark died Tuesday at his home in Nashville, Tenn., according to his manager, Keith Case. He’d been in poor health.

A native of Monahans, Texas, Clark belonged to a group of highly influential Texas songwriters that included Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury. Together with his painter-songwriter wife, Susanna, Clark’s home in Nashville became a gathering place for artists like Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle. He wrote songs for Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bobby Bare, Vince Gill and John Conlee.

Born in 1941, Clark’s upbringing in west Texas inspired the scenes and characters for many of his songs, including “Desperados.”

He moved to Houston in the 1960s, where he met Van Zandt and several other folk songwriters and played in coffee shops and bars. He married his first wife, Susan Spaw, and they had a son, Travis, in 1966. After his split with Susan, he met painter Susanna Talley and they moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career.

His dissatisfaction with the city’s hectic lifestyle was the basis of his song “L.A. Freeway,” which was recorded by Walker on his debut album. He and Susanna moved to Nashville in 1971, where his success as a songwriter led to a recording contract with RCA, and he released his first album, “Old No. 1,” in 1975.

Clark received the Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music in 2012. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

His final album, “My Favorite Picture of You,” won a Grammy in 2014 for best folk album.