Augusta-area singer, songwriter and practiced raconteur Larry Jon Wilson died today in Roanoke, Va.
Wilson, best known for his loose association with the Outlaw country music movement in the 1970s, gave up what he often referred to as the 'company car life' to pursue music. His rumbling baritone and distinctive songwriting style, which combined elements of country, folk and Southern narrative, made him something of a musician's musician, garnering a coterie of friends and musical accomplices that included Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury and Waylon Jennings.
The bulk of Wilson's recorded work, the albums New Beginnings, Let Me Sing My Songs, Loose Change and The Sojourner, was released on the Monument Label. Last year, Wilson released his first new work in nearly 30 years, the self-titled Larry Jon Wilson, on the Chicago-based indie label Drag City. The release proved to be something of a career renaissance for Wilson, particularly in Europe where he had maintained a small but fervent fan base.
"It has been nice," Wilson said in an interview last April. "It's been nice that, at this point in my life, people are interested."
In the long years between releases, Wilson kept busy with performances known for their intimate and improvisational nature and doing voiceover work for a variety of television networks, including serving as the official voice for the Turner South network. A working definition of dichotomy, he was a public performer who valued his privacy. In his April interview, he acknowledged the irony of making his living onstage while allowing only a valued few access to his private life.
"I'm no introvert but I am private," he said. "I like to say I find myself, quite often, alone in bad company."
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Augusta Chronicle interview from April 14, 2010