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Cowboy Jack Clement Dies at 82

Paul Hawthorne, Getty Images

Cowboy Jack Clement, who was the first person to produce pioneering rock ‘n’ rollers Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, has died at the age of 82. The Tennessean reports that he passed away from liver cancer.

The longtime and much-respected producer, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, wrote ‘Guess Things Happen That Way’ and arranged the horns on ‘Ring of Fire’ (which he also produced) for Cash, a friend until the Man in Black’s death in 2003.

While working at Memphis’ legendary Sun Records in the ’50s, Clement produced up-and-coming rock pioneers like Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was the first producer to work with the artists. He was born in Memphis and started working at the studio in 1956, just as it became a major part in shaping the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

In 1959 Clement moved to Nashville to work with other artists; by the early ’60s he was in Texas forming his own publishing company. Over the next three decades, he worked with rock, country and R&B legends like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Ray Charles, writing and producing many of their hits. He was added to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973.

In 1987 U2 asked Clement to return to Sun Studios and produce a handful of songs that would end up on their 1988 album ‘Rattle and Hum,’ including the hits ‘Angel of Harlem’ and ‘When Love Comes to Town.’

A 1995 documentary, ‘George Jones Was a Big Shakespeare Fan,’ chronicled Clement’s long, storied history in music, with fans and friends like Lewis and Bono giving praise. Recently, Clement hosted a program on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country channel on Saturday afternoons.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2013

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