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Clint Black Biography

"Ain't it funny how a melody can bring back a memory,
Take you to another place and time,
Completely change your state of mind."
 

By Robert K. Oermann
Nashville, Tennessee

 

Yes, the melodies are memorable. For if you love country music, they're virtually a soundtrack of the '90s. And when delivered by the unmistakable voice of Clint Black, they can, indeed change your "State of Mind."

In the bleakest part of the winter of 1989, there was something fresh on the radio airwaves, a song called "A Better Man" that looked at a failed relationship through optimistic eyes. That summer, "Killin' Time" was a darker vision, a lyric loaded with metaphor and levels of meaning that took you to the scary edge of alcohol abuse. They were the opening salvos of an extraordinary career and the introduction to a troubadour so prolific he would fill six complete albums with original songs in as many years to come.

The memories they bring back are impressively vivid, from Clint's bluesy harmonica passages in "Put Yourself in My Shoes" to the soaring vocals traded with Wynonna on the lushly melodic "A Bad Goodbye," from the machine-gun syllables and propulsive percussion of "A Good Run of Bad Luck" to the trenchant, keenly crafted lyrics of the waltz "Burn One Down."

The visual images are just as memorable -- the squinty-eyed grin of a kid winning his first Country Music Association Award, the brave smile of a volunteer going to entertain in Somalia, the quick jump through the tumble of his concert-stage "earthquake" arch, the bluejeans-and-tuxedo duds of a Texas country wedding, the happy glow on his face standing next to American icon Roy Rogers, the tireless good manners displayed during any of a thousand autograph sessions or the jaunty performances in Keebler TV ads. These are the memories of Clint Black, melodies and images that take us to a place and time that's really only the day before yesterday.

The baby of Ann and G.A. Black's four boys came to the music business with boundless optimism and purity of intent. Clint's father is a passionate country fan who instilled the same fervor in his boys Mark, Brian, Kevin and Clint. But it was the youngest who shaped that passion into a truly individual vision. Clint stole one of Brian's harmonicas at age 13 and taught himself to play it. Two years later the teenager learned the rudiments of guitar. Almost overnight Clint was pursuing the muse of music with astonishing focus and devotion.

In retrospect, only a fool or a truly dedicated musician would drop out of high school to play bass in his brother Kevin's band. It's a measure of Clint's passion that he did that in 1978 and a mark of his strikingly mature professionalism that he had his own solo gigs within three years. A 1981 booking in Houston's Barton Springs led to eight solid years of playing on the local club circuit.

It was during this apprenticeship that Clint Black met guitarist Hayden Nicholas. The team would later co-create such classic moments as the airy bounce of "Summer's Comin'," the silvery sizzling crescendo of "We Tell Ourselves" and the rolling rumble of "No Time to Kill." Hayden had an eight-track home studio. Together, the novices began making tapes of the tunes that would bring them fame. Clint was 25 when a chain of events suddenly brought him to Nashville to play a tape in Joe Galante's RCA Records office.

At the time, Nashville was just beginning to flex its "young country" muscles. George Strait and Randy Travis had demonstrated that there was a hunger for imaginitively produced records based on country traditions. Alabama and Sawyer Brown had alerted the industry to a potentially vast youth market. But most of the "new country" headliners had yet to emerge. In 1988, Alan Jackson was still in the mail room at The Nashville Network; songwriter Garth Brooks had been turned down by virtually every record label in town; Ronnie Dunn was still in Oklahoma; Billy Ray Cyrus was still in Kentucky; in Louisiana, young Tim McGraw had just bought his first guitar, and Lorrie Morgan, Vince Gill and Pam Tillis were still seeking breakthrough hits on Music Row.

In this climate, Clint Black's arrival was splashy and spectacular. He raised eyebrows by incorporating his band members into his recording sessions, stunned everyone with his composing prowess and bowled Music Row over by scoring five No. 1 singles from his debut album, a feat then unprecedented in any field of music.

"Clint Black. You'll be hearing his name a lot," opined USA Today. "There may never have been a country performer who has created a bigger stir right out of the box. Or one placed...in such a perfect position to become the next superstar."

In 1989-90 Clint became a lightning rod for the electricity in a new jolt of country talent. He was in the vanguard of the "new-country" army that was then marching over the pop-music horizon. Roughly six months after Clint's emergence, Garth Brooks released the first of a series of chart-toppers. The following January Alan Jackson issued Here in the Real World to launch a multi-million selling career. In 1991, Brooks & Dunn began their trip to the top as country touring champions.

There were many in the movement. But no one else had Clint Black's distinctive quality as a tunesmith, the ability to twist a melody into a serpentine delight, the talent to invest lyrics with multiple shadings and innuendo. Clint has the rare gift of being able to craft songs that are both artful and commercial, hits that can be taken either as audio candy or as insightful poetry.

The first album went Triple Platinum and each successive release also became a million-seller. By the end of 1990 Clint was headlining his own concert tour and collecting CMA, ACM, ASCAP, TNN and AMA honors by the shelf-full. That December, he played a triumphant hometown show in Houston at The Summit. Backstage, he met Houston-bred actress Lisa Hartman.

Clint was developing quite a reputation. Observers couldn't help noting his unflagging energy, professionalism, friendliness, magnetism and media cooperation. "I wanted to be the perfect artist," he recalls. "I'd do three hours of media interviews a day, going to every radio station I could squeeze in. I'd sign autographs after the show until everybody left." That dedication would practically exhaust him in years to come, but in 1991 Clint was still in the warm limelight of new stardom.

That was the year he joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry and began collaborating with country legends like Merle Haggard and Roy Rogers. In September he and Lisa announced their engagement in Nashville at the glamorous, black-tie ASCAP awards banquet. When they wed on his farm outside Houston in October, magazine photos were circulated around the world.

But fame and success carry a high price. In early 1992, a flurry of lawsuits with his ex-manager threatened to topple his career. RCA made a commitment to continue with him, but the mess of legal action delayed the release of The Hard Way and stalled his progress. This was particularly disheartening since the collection was the first he'd co-produced himself. But Clint dug in his heels, issued "We Tell Ourselves" as his comeback single in June and launched a touring extravaganza that put him in front of 1.5 million people during the next six months. The show utilized 54 crew members, six buses and five tractor-trailers and featured his famed "earthquake" arch effect.

In 1993 Playboy named his "Black and Wy" national tour with Wynonna its Concert of the Year. Their summer duet "A Bad Goodbye" became an omnipresent radio hit and paved the way for the back-to-back successes of "No Time to Kill" and "State of Mind." Clint and Lisa became the first entertainers to visit U.S. troops stationed in war-and- famine ravaged Somalia. He rounded out the year by singing the theme song for TV's "Harts of the West" and contributing "Desperado" to the Common Threads Eagles tribute, named Album of the Year by the CMA.

Billboard magazine named Clint Black the Most-Played Country Radio Artist of 1994. That was the year he staged his acting debut in TV's "Wings" and the movie Maverick. "A Good Run of Bad Luck," performed for the Maverick soundtrack, became Clint's first directing job on a music video. He made history with his next two by creating them as the first clips shot on large-format, 65mm film. He sang for a TV audience of 50 million at the National Memorial Day Celebration in Washington, then for a viewership of one billion at Superbowl XXVIII. But instead of following the industry trend of bigger and more spectacular concerts, he stripped things down to an "Up Close" series of performances that put him in intimate theater settings for intensely personal two-hour showcases.

If a man who has carved out such a special and individualistic body of hits isn't "the perfect artist," he's pretty damn close to it.

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Clint Black: Awards/Honors

1989

  • Country Music Association Horizon Award
  • RIAA Gold Record (Killin' Time)
  • Nashville Songwriters Association Songwriter/Artist Of The Year

    1990

  • Country Music Association Male Vocalist Of The Year
  • American Music Awards Favorite New Male Country Artist
  • Academy Of Country Music Best Male Vocalist
  • Academy Of Country Music Best New Male Vocalist
  • Academy Of Country Music Album Of The Year (Killin' Time)
  • Academy Of Country Music Single Of The Year ("Better Man")
  • TNN/Music City News Star Of Tomorrow
  • TNN/Music City News Album Of The Year (Killin' Time)
  • RIAA Platinum Record (Killin' Time)
  • RIAA Double Platinum Record (Killin' Time)

    1991

  • Grand Ole Opry cast membership
  • RIAA Gold Record (Put Yourself In My Shoes)
  • RIAA Platinum Record (Put Yourself In My Shoes)
  • RIAA Double Platinum Record (Put Yourself In My Shoes)

    1992

  • RIAA Gold Record (The Hard Way)
  • RIAA Platinum Record (The Hard Way)

    1993

  • Playboy magazine Concert Of The Year ("Black & Wy" tour with Wynonna)

    1994

  • Billboard magazine Most Played Country Radio Artist of the Year
  • RIAA Triple Platinum Record (Killin' Time)
  • RIAA Platinum Record (No Time To Kill)
  • Country Music Association Album of the Year(Common Threads)
  • Nashville Songwriters Association Songwriter/Performer of the Year

    1996

  • Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Male Country Artist
  • RIAA Platinum Record (Greatest Hits)
  • RIAA Triple Platinum Record (Put Yourself In My Shoes)
  • Received a star on the Hollywood "Walk Of Fame"

    1997

  • RIAA Gold Record (Nothin' But The Taillights)
  • Nashville Songwriters Association Song of the Year ("Something That We Do")

    1998

  • Music Row Magazine Song of the Year ("Something That We Do")

    1999

  • Grammy Award Best Country Collaboration with Vocal ("Same Old Train")
     

    2000
     

  • Grammy Award Nomination Best Country Collaboration with Vocal ("When I Said I Do" with Lisa Hartman Black)
     
  • ACM (Academy of Country Music) Award, Top Vocal Event of the Year ("When I Said I Do" with Lisa Hartman Black)
     
  • TNN Presents the Country Weekly Awards, Collaborative Event of the Year ("When I Said I Do" with Lisa Hartman Black)
     

     

    2001
     

  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Celebrity of the Year
     

     


    Nashville Songwriters Association International Awards
     

  • Songwriter/Artist of the Year 1989 & 1993
    This award is based on the writer's percentage of Top 30 singles charting during the ballot year. For example, a solo-written song is worth 1 point; a 2-way co-write is worth .5 of a point, and so on. Self-recorded songs count toward the songwriter/artist category (while songs recorded by other artists count toward the songwriter category). The songwriter/artist with the highest point total during the ballot year receives the award.
     

     

  • Song of the Year, "Something That We Do" 1997
    This award is determined by write-in vote among the association's entire membership of 4,300 songwriters. The most popular song - the one getting the most votes - receives the award.
     

     

  • Achievement Awards
    These awards are determined by voting among the association's entire membership of 4,300 songwriters. The 20 most popular songs - the ones getting the most votes - out of a field of some 150-plus songs on the ballot in the Country category receive the award.
     

    1989

  • Better Man
     
  • Killin' Time
     
  • Nobody's Home
     

    1997

  • Something That We Do
     

    1999

  • Nothin' But The Taillights
     

     

  • The Pegasus 1993
    This was a special presentation specifically for Clint Black, in gratitude for his NSAI benefit concerts. Pegasus was the mythological winged horse that could only be ridden by someone with a poet's pure heart.
     

    BMI Awards
     

    Presented annually to the most performed BMI country songs of the year
     

    1991 Country Award
     

  • Put Yourself In My Shoes
    1992 Country Award
     
  • One More Payment
    1994 Country Award
     
  • A Bad Goodbye
     
  • No Time To Kill
     
  • State Of Mind
    1995 Country Award
     
  • Good Run Of Bad Luck
     
  • Half The Man
     
  • Untanglin' My Mind
    1996 Country Award
     
  • Life Gets Away
     
  • Summer's Comin'
     
  • Wherever You Go
    1997 Country Award
     
  • Like The Rain
     
  • One Emotion
    1998 Country Award
     
  • Half Way Up
     
  • Something That We Do
  • Return To Top

    Clint Black Discography

     

    Albums
    Killin' Time -- 1989
    Straight From The Factory (Black/Nicholas)
    A Better Man (Black/Nicholas)
    Nobody's Home (Black)
    Walkin' Away (Black/Nicholas)
    You're Gonna Leave Me Again (Black/Nicholas)
    I'll Be Gone (Black/Nicholas)
    Nothing's News (Black)
    Winding Down (Black)
    Killin' Time (Black/Nicholas)
    Live And Learn (Black)

     
    Put Yourself In My Shoes -- 1990
    Put Yourself In My Shoes (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
    The Gulf Of Mexico (Black/Nicholas)
    One More Payment (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
    Where Are You Now (Black/Nicholas)
    The Old Man (Black/Nicholas)
    This Nightlife (Black/Nicholas)
    Loving Blind (Black)
    Muddy Water (Black/Nicholas)
    A Heart Like Mine (Black/Nicholas)
    The Goodnight-Loving (Black/Nicholas)

     
    The Hard Way -- 1992
    We Tell Ourselves (Black/Nicholas)
    The Hard Way (Black/Nicholas)
    Something To Cry About (Black/Nicholas)
    Buying Time (Black/Nicholas)
    When My Ship Comes In (Black/Nicholas)
    A Woman Has Her Way (Black/Williams/Bellamy)
    There Never Was A Train (Black/Nicholas)
    The Good Old Days (Black/Nicholas)
    Burn One Down (Black/Nicholas/Miller)
    Wake Up Yesterday (Black/Nicholas)

     
    No Time To Kill -- 1993
    No Time To Kill (Black/Nicholas)
    Thinkin' Again (Black/Nicholas)
    A Good Run Of Bad Luck (Black/Nicholas)
    State Of Mind (Black)
    A Bad Goodbye (duet w/Wynonna) (Black)
    Back To Back (Black/Nicholas)
    Half The Man (Black/Nicholas)
    I'll Take Texas (Black/Nicholas)
    Happiness Alone (Black/Buffett)
    Tuckered Out (Black/Nicholas)

     
    One Emotion -- 1994
    One Emotion (Black/Nicholas)
    Summer's Comin' (Black/Nicholas)
    Untanglin' My Mind (Black/Haggard)
    Wherever You Go (Black/Nicholas)
    A Change In The Air (Black/Nicholas)
    Life Gets Away (Black/Nicholas/Schuyler)
    I Can Get By (Black)
    Hey Hot Rod (Black/Russell)
    You Walked By (Black)
    You Made Me Feel (Black/McDonald)

     
    Looking For Christmas -- 1995
    The Finest Gift (Black/Nicholas)
    Under The Mistletoe (Black)
    The Kid (Black/Haggard/Nicholas)
    The Coolest Pair (Black)
    Looking For Christmas (Black)
    Christmas For Every Boy and Girl (Black)
    'Til Santa's Gone (Milk and Cookies)* (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
    Slow As Christmas (Black/Nicholas)
    The Birth Of The King (Black)
    Looking For Christmas (Reprise) (Black)
    * Previously released as 'Til Santa's Gone (I Just Can't Wait)
     
    The Greatest Hits -- 1996
    Like The Rain (Black/Nicholas)
    Summer's Comin'(Black/Nicholas)
    Good Run Of Bad Luck (Black/Nicholas)
    State Of Mind (Black)
    A Bad Goodbye (w/Wynonna) (Black)
    A Better Man (Black/Nicholas)
    Killin' Time (Black/Nicholas)
    We Tell Ourselves (Black/Nicholas)
    Halfway Up (Black/Nicholas)
    Burn One Down (Black/Nicholas/Miller)
    Cadillac Jack (Black/Nicholas)
    Put Yourself In My Shoes (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
    Wherever You Go (Black/Nicholas)
    Life Gets Away (Black/Nicholas/Schuyler)
    No Time To Kill (Black/Nicholas)
    Desperado (Henley/Frey) (recorded live in San Antonio, Texas)
     

     
    Nothin' But The Taillights -- 1997
    Nothin' But The Taillights (Black/Wariner)
    That Something In My Life (Black/Kostas)
    Our Kind Of Love (w/Alison Krauss & Union Station) (Black/Russell)
    Loosen Up My Strings (Black/Nicholas)
    Still Holding On (w/Martina McBride) (Black/Berg/Stuart)
    Something That We Do (Black/Ewing)
    The Shoes You're Wearing (Black/Nicholas)
    You Don't Need Me Now (Black/Russell)
    What I Feel Inside (Black/Nicholas)
    You Know It All (Black/Wariner)
    Ode To Chet (w/Chet Atkins)(Black/Nicholas)
    Bitter Side Of Sweet (Black/Nicholas)
     

     
    D'lectrified -- 1999
    Bob Away My Blues (Caldwell)
    Are You Sure Waylon Done It This Way? (Jennings)
    Hand In The Fire (Black/Nicholas)
    Outside Intro (Black/Idle)
    The Galaxy Song (Idle/DuPrez)
    When I Said I Do (w/Lisa Hartman Black) (Black)
    Been There (w/Steve Wariner) (Black/Wariner)
    Dixie Lullaby (Russell/Stainton)
    Where Your Love Won't Go (Black/Wariner)
    Love She Can't Live Without (Black/Ewing)
    Burn One Down (Black/Nicholas/Miller)
    Who I Used To Be (Black/Nicholas)
    Harmony (Black/Nicholas/Loggins)
    No Time To Kill (Black/Nicholas)
     

     
    Greatest Hits II -- 2001
    The Shoes You're Wearing (Black/Nicholas)
    Nothin' But The Taillights (Black/Wariner)
    Nothing's News (Black)
    Walkin' Away (Black/Nicholas/Gay)
    When My Ship Comes In (Black/Nicholas)
    Something That We Do (Black/Ewing)
    When I Said I Do (w/Lisa Hartman Black) (Black)
    Been There (w/Steve Wariner) (Black/Wariner)
    Still Holding On (w/Martina McBride) (Black/Berg/Stuart)
    Nobody's Home (Black)
    One More Payment (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
    One Emotion (Black/Nicholas)
    Easy For Me To Say (w/Lisa Hartman Black) (Black/Nicholas)
    Little Pearl and Lily's Lullaby (Black)
    Money Or Love (Black)
    Put Yourself In My Shoes -- Blues Version (Black/Nicholas/Russell)
     
    Compilations/Contributions
    Home for the Holidays (1990)
    'Til Santa's Gone (I Just Can't Wait) (Black/Nicholas)
    Roy Rogers Tribute (1991)
    Hold On, Partner (duet w/Roy Rogers)
     
    My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (soundtrack, 1991)
    Nothing's News
    Maverick -- Hank Williams Jr. (1992) &
    Bocephus Box Collection -- Hank Williams Jr. (1992)
    Hotel Whiskey (cameo)
    Walls Can Fall -- George Jones (1992)
    I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair (one of several singing a line)
     
    Common Thread: Songs of the Eagles (1993)
    Desperado
     
    Rhythm, Country & Blues (1994)
    Chain Of Fools (duet w/the Pointer Sisters)
     
    Grammy's Greatest Country Moments, Volume One (1994)
    A Bad Goodbye (duet w/Wynonna -- live recording)
    Maverick (soundtrack, 1994)
    A Good Run Of Bad Luck
    Amazing Grace (as part "The Maverick Choir")
    Mama's Hungry Eyes: A Tribute to Merle Haggard (1994)
    I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am (Haggard)
    Ten Hot Country Hits by Clint Black and Friends (1994)
    State Of Mind (promotional collection for "Unbeatable Wheatables")
    Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1995)
    Light As The Breeze - Billy Joel (harmonica only) (Cohen)
    A Country Christmas, Volume 5 (1995)
    'Til Santa's Gone (Milk and Cookies)
    Greatest Hits, Volume III -- Billy Joel (1997)
    Light As The Breeze (harmonica)

     
    Country Cares For Kids: A Holiday Album to Benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (1997)
    Christmas For Every Boy And Girl
    Sounds of Wood and Steel -- Various Artists, Windham Hill (1998)
    The Claw (Jerry Reed) - instrumental

     
    Country Superstar Hits -- Various Artists, Hip-O (1998)
    I'll Take Texas (Black/Nicholas)
    Tribute To Tradition -- Various Artists, Sony Nashville (1998)
    Same Old Train (Marty Stuart)
    Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (Official Soundtrack) -- Various Artists, Goodtimes/K-Tel (1998)
    Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks)
    The Prince of Egypt - Nashville -- various artists, Dreamworks Nashville (1998)
    Slavery, Deliverance and Faith (Black/Ewing)
    The Prince of Egypt - Official Soundtrack -- various artists, Dreamworks Records (1998)
    Humanity (Brown/Parker) - included in chorus of artists
    Sounds Of Wood And Steel 2 -- various artists, Windham Hill (1999)
    Something That We Do (Black/Ewing) - instrumental

     
    Ride With Bob: A Tribute To Bob Wills -- various artists, Dreamworks Records (1999)
    Bob Wills Is Still The King (Jennings) -- with Asleep At The Wheel

     
    Country Cares For Kids II -- various artists, BNA Records (2000)
    Something That We Do (Black/Ewing) -- acoustic version
     

     
    Christmas Collection -- Olivia Newton-John, Hip-O Records (2001)
    Let It Snow (Cahn/Styne) -- Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Loggins and Clint Black

     
  • Merle Haggard's 1996 contains his recording of "Untangling My Mind"
     
  • "Been There" also appears on the Steve Wariner album Faith In You
  • Return To Top

     

     

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