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R.I.P. W.C. Clark

W.C. Clark, the Godfather of Austin Blues, passed away on March 2 at the age of 84. Part of the bedrock of the Austin music scene, Clark performed on Austin City Limits in 1989 in celebration of his fiftieth birthday, joined by his friends and devotees Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, Lou Ann Barton, and Angela Strehli. He was part of the ACL family and we will miss him.

W.C. Clark, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton improvise a jam on Austin City Limits.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and bassist Clark became a professional musician at the age of 16, performing his first gig at the legendary Austin venue the Victory Grill. That led to gigs with other Texas blues and soul peers and pioneers, including T. D Bell, Blues Boy Hubbard, and Houston soul star Joe Tex. He also formed his own bands, taking other rising blues and R&B artists under his wing in the likes of the Storm (with Jimmie Vaughan), Southern Feeling (wth Angela Strehli), and the groundbreaking Triple Threat Revue (with Lou Ann Barton and Stevie Ray Vaughan). Other mentees included members of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Sextons Charlie and Will. Beginning in the eighties, Clark led his own band, the W.C. Clark Blues Revue, for nearly forty years, touring the world and releasing eight albums along the way.

W.C. Clark and Friends perform “Take Me to the River.”

“W.C. was a class act and a gentleman,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He was loved and respected by many, but fame and fortune were not his goals. He epitomized the best of the Austin music scene, and there are none others quite like him.”

Clark played his final gig at Giddy Ups on February 20, a mere thirteen days before his death, leaving behind an enviable legacy. He will be greatly missed.

W.C. Clark and Friends on Austin City Limits, 1989. L-R: Angela Strehli, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jon Blondell, W.C. Clark. Photo by Scott Newton.