Justin Townes Earle, an acclaimed US songwriter and son of Steve Earle, has died, in news confirmed on the artist’s Facebook page on Sunday night.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” the post read. “So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys. You will be missed dearly.”
Named for his father’s friend and idol Townes Van Zandt, Earle, 38, battled addiction throughout his life. He released eight albums across the course of his career, which saw him honored twice at the Americana Music awards including for his best-known song, Harlem River Blues.
Many have paid tribute to the artist on Twitter, with the musician Samantha Crain reflecting on their friendship: “Such a tremendous songwriter. He took me on two tours and always treated me so kindly. He understood struggle, he understood joy I saw him at the peaks and valleys of both through the 13 years I knew him.”
His friend and collaborator Jason Isbell said: “Had a lot of good times and made a lot of good music with JTE. So sad for his family tonight.”
My friend, Justin Townes Earle, has passed away. Such a tremendous songwriter...he took me on 2 tours and always treated me so kindly....he understood struggle, he understood joy...I saw him at the peaks and valleys of both through the 13 years I knew him...we will miss you JT ❤ pic.twitter.com/rq74Qu3Hif
— Samantha Crain (@sjcrain) August 24, 2020
Had a lot of good times and made a lot of good music with JTE. So sad for his family tonight.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) August 24, 2020
It appears that Justin Townes Earle has died. I hope it's a hoax but fear it is not. What a loss.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 24, 2020
The writer and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib praised Earle as “an incredible writer of narrative – stories that flourished beyond the music they were laid over”. the NPR music critic Ann Powers described his last album, The Saint of Lost Causes, as “a powerful road map of America … we’ve lost someone with real vision.”
Justin Townes Earle was such an incredible writer of narrative -- stories that flourished beyond the music they were laid over. The people and places in his songs always felt so touchable to me. Sad to hear the news of his passing.
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) August 24, 2020
Terribly sad news about Justin Townes Earle. His last album, The Saint of Lost Causes, was a powerful road map of America. I'm so sorry for all who loved him and for us because we've lost someone with real vision. #RIPJustinTownesEarle https://t.co/D4Ci3taxiN
— Feeling Distant (@annkpowers) August 24, 2020
So sad to hear that Justin Townes Earle has died. He was a good soul. Rest in power, Justin. https://t.co/3wBACdhbuK
— colin meloy (@colinmeloy) August 24, 2020
Earle left behind his wife and young daughter. No cause of death was confirmed.