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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I don't know why I didn't know two months ago, but I just found out from reading the very small print at the bottom of page 49 of the June issue of M, the PRS Members* Music Magazine, that Stephen Bruton had died, from complications from throat cancer, on May 9, at age 60. He died at home but was in the middle of working in LA with T. Bone Burnett on the film Crazy Heart, as music producer and composer.

Here's his entry (without the now-necessary updating) in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia:

Bruton, Stephen [1948 - ]
Turner Stephen Bruton was born in Wilmington, Delaware on November 7, 1948 but brought up in Fort Worth, Texas, with a jazz-drummer father who ran a record store. A teenage friend of T-BONE BURNETT, he became a guitarist equally keen on bluegrass, blues and soul, as well as a songwriter. In 1970 he joined KRIS KRISTOFFERSON’s band and stayed with him for well over 10 years, though also touring with Bonnie Raitt and others. He moved to Austin Texas in the mid-1980s, producing other artists’ records and having his songs covered by WILLIE NELSON, Waylon Jennings, JOHNNY CASH, Little Feat, Jimmy Buffett and others. Starting with Kristofferson’s film A Star Is Born, Bruton has also built a Hollywood bit-part career and has appeared in Convoy, Heaven’s Gate, Miss Congeniality, Sweet Thing and The Alamo. As a studio session musician he has played on the Kristofferson & RITA COOLIDGE album Full Moon (1973) and on records by Delbert McClinton, ELVIS COSTELLO, Carly Simon, THE WALLFLOWERS and many others.

More importantly, however, Stephen Bruton played guitar on the Mexico City session for the Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid album (on January 20, 1973), from which came the album track ‘Billy 4’, while a bit of the instrumental ‘Billy Surrenders’ was used in the film - and then 17 years later Bruton played guitar with Dylan’s band for a few nights in August 1990: August 19 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; August 20 in Vancouver; August 21 in Portland, Oregon; August 24 in Pueblo, California; August 26 in Des Moines, Iowa; August 27 & 28 in Merrillville, Indiana; and August 29 in St.Paul, Minnesota - and then he returned to play both guitar and mandolin on October 11 in Greenvale, New York and October 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

(* The lack of an apostrophe is c/o PRS, not me.)


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