Justin Townes Earle, Americana singer-songwriter and son of alt-country figure and GRAMMY winner Steve Earle, has died at 38. The news was confirmed via his official Instagram and Facebook accounts on Sunday night.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” the statement says. "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."
Originally from South Nashville, Tenn., Earle was famously named after Townes Van Zandt. He grew up with little to no relationship to his father, who struggled with drug abuse. The two reconnected in the mid-'90s after the elder Earle got clean.
In the '00s, Earle played in Earle played with Nashville bands the Distributors and the Swindlers; he also toured as a guitarist and keyboardist with his father in the Dukes.
In 2007, Earle released his debut solo LP, Yuma, on Bloodshot Records. The Good Life followed in 2008. A prolific performer who mixed country with folk and blues, Earle released eight LPs in the span of his career, the last of which was 2019's The Saint of Lost Causes.
Having struggled with addition since his teens, Earle had always been very open in interviews about his history with drug abuse. "I think it's one of those things that I don't really care about what I do," he told CityPages in 2011. "I mean it's not that I feel any shame on myself; it's just kind of a part of me... But ya know, in my family it was never really a high bar to set to stay in the good graces of the family. I think that, it's just something that I've never really worried about."
The cause of death has not been revealed at this time.
Friends of Earle's took to social media to react to the news. "RIP Justin Townes Earle,” tweeted the Head & the Heart. "We had the pleasure of playing a few shows together. He was such an immense songwriter and authentic soul. This year is a thief."