After a stint in the Marines and finishing college at Memphis State University, Clement, a local steel guitar player, went to work as a producer and engineer for Sam Phillips at Sun Records, where he would work with the likes of Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich and Johnny Cash, and where he discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis while Phillips was away on vacation (the result of which was the well-known "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On").
Clement and Johnny Cash, from the documentary Shakespeare was a Big George Jones Fan: Cowboy Jack Clement's Home Movies
After being fired by Phillips, Clement moved to Nashville to work for Chet Atkins and the influential RCA label , where he met George Jones and convinced him to cut the hit, "She Thinks I Still Care." He also financed a demo by the then-unknown singer Charlie Pride, persuading Atkins to sign him to RCA and then producing Pride's first thirteen albums for the label. He'd later launch the solo career of Don Williams through his own JMI label, and go on to produce everyone from Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, Bobby Bare, Crystal Gayle and Emmylou Harris to Louis Armstrong and U2, a band he'd never heard of before producing portions of their Rattle and Hum album.
Inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973, Clement has also been inducted to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Music City Walk of Fame. Today, he hosts a regular program on the SiriusXM Outlaw country station while operating a pared-down recording operation out of his house, which he calls "The Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa." Because we wouldn't even be able to make a dent in his roster of production credits, we instead offer you a top ten list of hits written by Cowboy Jack, in honor of his eighty-first birthday.
"The One on the Right Is on the Left" Johnny Cash
"Just Between You and Me" - Charlie Pride
"Miller's Cave" - Bobby Bare
"Guess Things Happen That Way" - Johnny Cash
"Just Someone I Used to Know" - Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
"Fools Like Me" - Jerry Lee Lewis
"Dirty Old Egg Suckin' Dog" - Johnny Cash
"Let's All Help the Cowboy Sing the Blues" - Waylon Jennings
"I Like Love" - Roy Orbison
"Ballad of a Teenage Queen" - Johnny Cash
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