Justin Townes Earle, Americana songwriter and son of Steve Earle, dies at 38

His death was confirmed in a statement to his Facebook page.

Justin Townes Earle

Photo: Scott Dudelson / Getty Images

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Justin Townes Earle, the award-winning Americana artist, and son of Steve Earle, has died at 38.

His death was confirmed in a statement on his Facebook page.“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” it reads. “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 Justin.”

An official cause of death has yet to be announced.

It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin. So many…

Posted by Justin Townes Earle on Sunday, August 23, 2020

Earle’s music career began early in his teens, where he was a member of Nashville-based rock band the Distributors and bluegrass combo the Swindlers. He also had a part in his father’s touring band, the Dukes, playing guitar and keyboard.

As a solo artist, Earle released nine studio albums, including 2010’s Harlem River Blues, which won an Americana Music Award in the category of Song Of The Year for its titular track. His final studio album was 2019’s The Saint Of Lost Causes.

Earle has spoken openly about his struggles with substance abuse in multiple interviews. In 2010, he told the Charleston City Paper that he had survived five heroin overdoses by age 21, and admitted his drug abuse to be the reason he was fired from his father’s touring band.

The musician eventually became sober around the period he began his solo career. “When I started making records, I was sober,” he told Rolling Stone in a 2017 interview, adding: “I got all my craziness out of the way as a coffeehouse musician and a roadie.” He added that marijuana contributed greatly to his success in achieving sobriety, saying: “I am a participant of the marijuana maintenance program.”

Like his son, country icon Steve Earle’s struggles early in his career with substance addiction were well documented. He eventually became sober in 1994.

In a 2019 interview for his final album, Justin Townes Earle discussed how it felt to be compared to his father.

“I really do appreciate it,” he told The Boot. “There are a lot of sons and daughters out there who want nothing to do with their parents. Get over that shit. You think you’d be doing what you’re doing with no influence from your mother or father?”

Justin Townes Earle is survived by his wife of seven years, Jenn Marie Maynard-Earle, and their three-year-old daughter Etta St. James Earle.

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