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Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)

Mary Katherine 09 May 09 - 08:22 PM
Joe Offer 09 May 09 - 08:26 PM
evansakes 09 May 09 - 08:49 PM
Severn 09 May 09 - 09:03 PM
katlaughing 09 May 09 - 09:06 PM
Janie 09 May 09 - 09:13 PM
Suzy T. 10 May 09 - 04:40 PM
Wesley S 11 May 09 - 02:11 PM
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Subject: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Mary Katherine
Date: 09 May 09 - 08:22 PM

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 May 09 - 08:26 PM

From the link cited above:

Stephen Bruton 1948- 2009
By Michael Corcoran | Saturday, May 9, 2009, 02:31 PM

Although his credits as a guitarist, producer and songwriter were highly impressive, there was so much more to Austin icon Stephen Bruton, who lost a two and a half year battle with throat cancer Saturday morning in Los Angeles.

"He was one of the bright spots in the lives of anyone who was close to him," said Kris Kristofferson, who hired a 22-year-old Bruton to be his guitar player in 1971. The gig lasted 17 years and made the pair as close as brothers. Bruton also played in the bands of Bonnie Raitt and Delbert McClinton, plus he produced career-defining albums by Alejandro Escovedo, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Marcia Ball..

"I feel fortunate that I was able to get back to L.A. last night and say farewell," Kristofferson said. "He finally knew he was going, after fighting it so hard for so long. I said I would see him again down the road, probably sooner than later." The two talked for awhile, then, late Friday night, Bruton said he had to go to sleep. He never woke up and was found at 8 a.m. He was 60.

"Stephen Bruton was the soul of Texas music," T-Bone Burnett said in a statement Saturday. "This is an incalculable loss. He was my oldest friend and I loved him like a brother. I learned more from him than I can say."

Burnett flew Bruton to L.A. in a private jet about two months ago, knowing that playing the guitar in the studio would be great for Bruton's spirits. "Stephen wanted to work," said Cameron Strang, the president of New West, which released three Bruton solo LPs. Besides playing on a soundtrack produced by Burnett for the upcoming Jeff Bridges movie "Crazy Heart," Bruton saw two highly regarded oncologists in L.A. and had initially showed signs of improvement, Strang said.

Back home in Austin, where the guitarist played every Sunday night with the Resentments at the Saxon Pub for several years, there was hope that Bruton would pull through. If anyone could beat cancer… Instead, a music community still reeling from Wednesday's death of Willie Nelson's beloved stage manager Poodie Locke, had to deal with another great loss.

'We owe a lot to Stephen Bruton," Saxon Pub owner Joe Ables said, speaking not only for his club on South Lamar, but Austin as a whole. "The word I think of when I think of Stephen is 'respect.' Everyone respected him as a man of talent and integrity. He was the guy you looked up to."

He was also known as someone you could turn to in times of despair. After getting sober about 20 years ago, Bruton was there to help anyone who wanted to lead a life without drugs and alcohol. He didn't preach, but led by example, and in doing so saved dozens of lives.

As a producer, Bruton had a way of taking command that made you want to follow him, said Jimmie Dale Gilmore, whose Bruton-produced album "After Awhile" took Gilmore out of the honkytonks and into listening rooms and concert halls. "He was so important to me," Gilmore said. "He had the right combination of genuine musicianship and organizational skill that made him such a great producer. Plus he was so much fun to work with." Bruton's other production credits included the first two Alejandro Escovedo solo projects, plus albums by Marcia Ball, Hal Ketchum and Storyville.

Off-the-cuff comedy was another of Bruton's talents you won't find in liner notes, but he could also take a joke. Once he was the best man at a wedding, but was the last one to arrive. As the couple waited patiently and the guests looked back at the entrance for Bruton, someone said 'Turn on a movie camera and he'll be here in two minutes" and everyone cracked up. Including Bruton, when he was told about it.

Raised on rhythm and blues and country in his family's record store in Fort Worth, Turner Stephen Bruton was only 20 when he met budding songwriter Kristofferson in Fort Worth. A couple years later Kristofferson, fresh from the cover of Time magazine, asked Bruton if he was interested in playing the guitar in his band. "Man, that's all I'm interested in," Bruton answered back.

"Kris was always so encouraging about my songwriting," Bruton told the American-Statesman in 2007. Bruton co-wrote the title track of Kristofferson's 1972 album "Border Lord" and had his greatest writing thrill when Raitt and Willie Nelson sang a duet of Bruton's "Getting Over You" on Nelson's "Across the Borderline" LP.

Raitt has a show tonight in Austin at the Bass Concert Hall. It could be one of the toughest she'll ever have to get through, as she and Bruton were extremely close.

Bruton was the star of Raitt's video to "Thing Called Love," but he'd had a lot of practice acting, as his association with Kristofferson beefed up his resume with roles in such films as "A Star Is Born," "Heaven's Gate" and "Songwriter' (writen by Bud Shrake, who passed away yesterday). A handsome 'silver fox,' with a sly grin, Bruton also had roles in "The Alamo," "Miss Congeniality" and played the bandleader in the TV series 'Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip.'

Bruton was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils in early '07. Just a month after chemotherapy, he worked as band leader for the Freescale Semiconductor "Road To Austin" show in May 2007.

"I've never had an experience with anything like this," Bruton said at the time, looking gaunt from the cancer treatments. But he said, at the time, playing again with special guests Kristofferson, Raitt and McClinton would be the best medicine.

McClinton and Bruton go back to the '60s when a 16-year-old Stephen and his older brother Sumter were guitarists in the house band of a Fort Worth juke joint called the Bluebird.

By the time he hooked up with Kristofferson, Bruton had an encyclopedic knowledge of guitar riffs. But his playing was never flashier than what the song called for.

In that 2007 interview, Bruton proudly pulled out a photo of him and Kristofferson playing their first gig together, at the Golden Bear in San Rafael, Calif. in 1971.

"Touring with Kris was the greatest experience," Bruton said, looking at the photo with a big smile. "I feel like we went through life together."

The funeral will be in Fort Worth, with other details pending.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: evansakes
Date: 09 May 09 - 08:49 PM

He was a good 'un. I saw him several times on my pilgramages to Austin

Here's Stephen singing his wonderful song 'Getting Over You'

Katy Moffatt did a wonderful version of it at TwickFolk a few months ago

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Severn
Date: 09 May 09 - 09:03 PM

I own three of his CDs and value them all. A great loss indeed of someone not enough people fully knew about.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 May 09 - 09:06 PM

That is really, really sad. Thanks for posting the article. I've a friend in Austin who must be grieving tonight.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Janie
Date: 09 May 09 - 09:13 PM

From the obituary posted, it sounds like he was a gem of a human being.

My condolences to all who loved him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Suzy T.
Date: 10 May 09 - 04:40 PM

Last year I had the wonderful experience of working with Stephen on Geoff Muldaur's "Texas Sheiks" recording project (which also included Jim Kweskin, Cindy Cashdollar, Johnny Nicholas and Bruce Hughes). Stephen was pretty sick - he had to rest between takes - but what he added to that project made me understand why everyone loved him so much. He was a great musician but he also had that extra thing that brought out the best in the musicians he was playing with. I wish I had gotten to know him better but I am thankful that I was able to get that opportunity for music with him.

Suzy Thompson

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Subject: RE: Obit: Stephen Bruton RIP (May 2009)
From: Wesley S
Date: 11 May 09 - 02:11 PM

I was a big fan of his work. He was a superb musician and really knew how to turn a phrase too.

"I hit the highway singing "My Way"
But it wound up sounding like "You'll never walk alone"
I've been lost at sea I've been lost in space
And when I fall in love I fall all over the place.
I am what I am cause I ain't what I used to be.

Bruton on Youtube

He also got a few acting gigs from time to time. He was in "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid", "The Alamo" and several others. And his last job was teaching guitar to Jeff Bridges who's supposed to play a country singer in his next movie. I had one conversation with Stephen at his brothers record store in my old neighborhood. He was polite and gracious even though I was a bit star struck and asked a few innane questions. He'll be missed. Talk about a multi talented guy. At one time he performed with T-Bone Burnett - another former Ft Worth resident - in a group called "Little Whisper and the Rumors". I saw a reunion concert of those guys and it was one of the better nights of music I've been exposed to. But hearing Stephen Bruton backing up Geoff Muldaur on guitar and mandolin in a small club? That's my idea of heaven.

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