Americana songwriter Justin Townes Earle dead aged 38 years old

There's shock and sadness throughout the Americana and modern folk music world as we learn of the passing of songwriter Justin Townes Earle.

Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle, but best known as a phenomenal songwriter and live performer in his own right, has died at the age of 38 years old. A representative of New West Records confirmed the songwriter's death to Rolling Stone on 23rd August 2020.

On Justin Towne’s Earle’s Facebook page, a post read:

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


Photo Credit: Joshua Black Wilkins.

Fans across the world knew Earle for his albums such as 2020’s ‘Harlem River Blues’, 2017’s ‘Kids In The Street’, and last year’s ‘The Saint Of Lost Causes’. Not only hugely popular with fans, Earle was respected and admired by many of his peers.

Had a lot of good times and made a lot of good music with JTE. So sad for his family tonight.

Jason Isbell on Twitter.

Steve Earle named his son, born on 4th January 1982, after songwriter and friend Townes Van Zandt. Justin’s mother never cared for the name.

My mother hated Townes Van Zandt. My first name was supposed to be Townes, but my mother would not have it,. She hated him because of the trouble that Dad and him got into, but she still played his music.

Justin Townes Earle speaking to Rolling Stone in 2019.

Earle, like his father, battled with addiction to alcohol and drugs during his career but was sober when making records. He first performed in Nashville alongside his famous father aged 17 years old. He performed regularly and was on the road in support of ‘The Saint Of Lost Causes’ until the COVID pandemic shut down the industry in March 2020.

Tributes poured in following the singer and songwriter’s death from other performers and writers such as Jason Isbell, Samantha Crain, and well as critics Hanif Abdurraqib, and Ann Powers.

At this time, no cause of death has been verified. Justin Townes Earle leaves behind a wife, a young daughter, and a legacy that helped shape the sound of modern Americana music.