As reported by Pitchfork, alt-country singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle—son of outlaw country singer-songwriter Steve Earle—has died. The news was confirmed on Earle’s social media pages with a note mentioning the fans who have “relied on his music and lyrics over the years” and adding that Earle’s music will hopefully “continue to guide [them].” No cause of death, including where or when he died, has been given. Earle was 38.
Earle was born in 1982, with his parents partially naming him after his father’s mentor, Townes van Zandt. Though he ended up following a similar career path as his father, Earle has been open in interviews about the fact that his father left him and his mother when he was just a child, with the two only really reconnecting around the time Earle became a teenager. At one point he even joined his father’s backing band, the Dukes, but he was fired because of his excessive drug use—an unfortunate similarity between Earle and his father.
Pitchfork says Earle overdosed on heroin five times before he turned 21 and went through multiple stints in rehab facilities. Telling Rolling Stone in 2017 that he had been sober for a while and had gotten the “craziness” out of his system. He also never shied away from comparisons to his father, noting the absurdity of even suggesting that the two have nothing in common or that someone’s parents really have no influence on the kind of person they end up becoming.
Earle released eight solo albums, not counting his debut EP Yuma in 2007, including 2008's The Good Life, 2010's Harlem River Blues, and a trilogy of albums about family: 2014's Single Mothers, 2015's Absent Fathers, and 2017's Kids In The Street. His final album was 2019's The Saint Of Lost Causes.