Vale Justin Townes Earle

We salute and mourn JTE

Photo: LTTL

By Rob Dickens


  • my friend Richard (note: haven’t seen him in too long a time) telling me about this singer at a record store in Melbourne (Basement Discs) a few years back – blew him away, I MUST see him
  • thinking how cool for him to have a middle name recognising one of the all-time great songwriters Townes Van Zandt
  • seeing him perform at least eight times – in Australia (Melbourne, Byron Bay, regional Victoria) and in the USA (St Augustine, Florida)
  • being enchanted by his talent, the perfect mix of country, blues and folk
  • listening to and reviewing almost all his albums, always impressed by the consistency
  • witnessing him given the keys to the City of St Augustine, Florida, the oldest settlement in the United States, by The Mayor, an effusive no. 1 fan
  • hearing his views on a difficult relationship with his famous singer/father, Steve Earle, more than one too many times
  • seeing him be difficult and truculent on stage (one particular show at The Forum in downtown Melbourne stands out)
  • watching him perform at Bluesfest in 2010 just before father Steve was due on the same site, with the latter standing stage left the whole set and me being sure that the son would ask the father out for a guest spot – (it would have so easy, the crowd would have loved it) – he did not
  • observing a number of times his slowing down the pace and rhythm of his songs to an extent that I found either puzzling or annoying or both
  • enjoying a show with his then-new girlfriend (they later married) alongside and noting the happiness and contentment that had not been there before
  • noting that he cancelled his last scheduled Australia tour just a few days before his first show, with no explanation
  • sitting in the same chair in my house when hearing of the passing of John Prine, the only difference between then and today is the number of The Lockdown – the crap year keeps on taking
  • being shocked initially at the news of his death this morning, the surprise giving way to a grudging acknowledgement that his was a troubled soul – a lost angel


Justin Townes Earle as a skillful, engaging and captivating artist who leaves behind a trail of great music and memories that we can all enjoy forever.


Justin Townes Earle – Photo: LTTL
Photo: LTTL
The Keys To The City – Photo: LTTL




We salute and mourn JTE

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Author: Rob Dickens

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  1. Lovely tribute Rob. Agree with you on so many of your points. So very sad today.

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    • Thanks Marnee! Another music blow in 2020. On a brighter note, looking forward to catching up once our get-out-of-lockdown cards come through

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  2. I agree with you, Rob. This was very sad news for me to read about tonight. And yes, Justin often seemed to be a very troubled soul when I heard him performing. My heart goes out to Steve and all those who loved him.

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    • Thanks for that jaci101. Terrible news and our thoughts are with his dearest. Stay safe!

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      • Thanks Rob. Lovely. It could be hard to watch…it could be beautiful. You, J, and Yours, take care. G, M, and Ours

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        • Hey Geoffrey. Thanks for getting in touch. Been too long since we’ve had a heart to heart. See you and Margaret on the other side amigo

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  3. It is heartbreaking. Your memories of him are sadly accurate. I saw him just last year in a small venue with a small crowd. He started strong but by the end of his set he was obviously in an altered state. It was difficult to witness his struggles with addiction. What a talented musician, a lost soul. Rip, jte.

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    • Hi Sara. You are so right. An incredible sad loss in a very troubled time. Hope you are well

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  4. Agree with all your comments Rob. We had followed him since his early solo career. His exhuberance delivering his songs (most of the time) reminded me a little more of his Aunt Stacey than his Dad. His expressiveness was fun to capture via camera and still enjoy his consistently good recorded work. This pandemic is being horribly mean with both fans and entertainers. 😢

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    • Hi Larry. Chatting with you on the boat at the front fence, cameras poised, seems like an eternity ago, doesn’t it? Thanks for your insight. Stay safe. Until the next front fence…

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