Austin Blues – Clifford Antone Dies

News8Austin is reporting that Clifford Antone has died of an apparent heart attack. Antone’s, the club that he started, is pretty much synonymous with the Austin blues scene that flourished here in the 70’s and early 80’s and birthed Stevie Ray Vaughan among others.

Antone opened the club in 1975 and famously went to prison in 2000 on money laundering and drug charges after being caught with more than 1,000 kg of marijuana. Antone celebrated his club’s 30 year anniversary recently and had taken over management and booking responsibilities at his club again earlier this year.

I’m probably a little odd in that I’ve lived here for sixteen years and never once set foot in either location of the famous club in the time that I’ve lived here, despite having visited almost every other club in town, but I can appreciate his legacy and all he’s done to contribute to our fair city’s famous tagline: “Live Music Capital of the World”. This, coupled with the death of Lloyd Bentsen, who famously put Dan Quayle in his place, makes it a sad day in Austin.

Please share your Clifford Antone, Antone’s or Lloyd Bentsen stories in the comments.

Update (05.24.2006 09:17AM CDT): KUT reports that Antone’s will be open free to the public from 4pm to 2am today. They’re claiming musicians from all over the country are flying in to pay tribute, but didn’t name any names. I’m guessing it’ll be packed, but it’ll be interesting to see who shows up.

Update 2: News8Austin has a couple of stories, including an interview last night with Jimmie Vaughan and quotes from Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black, who says that Antone’s death will precipitate only the third cover change in the history of the weekly, the other two being the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the death of Doug Sahm.

3 Comments so far

  1. Rantor (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    So far as memory can be relied on, the recollection is that Antone’s has been in at least four locations: the original, on Sixth; someplace up on Anderson(?) where nobody went; on the Drag; and then to its current location. Just as important as Antone’s were the AusTex Lounge (Magnolia Cafe’s there now, on South Congress) and the very early days of Maggie May’s (barrelhouse blues piano and Dan del Santo and his Professors of Pleasure). YMMV or memories may be hazy . . . and don’t forget the record store

  2. wae (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 7:49 am

    The single most important reason I came to UT was because of SRV’s Austin connection. The single best thing about my first year spent living in an efficiency shithole was that it was just up the street from the old Guadalupe Antone’s.

    I saw more bands at Antone’s in that 12 months than I’ve seen anywhere in the last 3 years, and it re-affirmed my love of the blues and solidified my love for Austin. Memories of hearing Toni Price for the first time, finally seeing Eric Johnson live, Reese Wynans sitting in with Double Trouble, performances by Chris Duarte, Loose Diamonds, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, Ian Moore, Sue Foley, Malford Milligan, W.C. Clark, Lou Ann Barton, Doyle Bramhall, Omar & the Howlers … all gloriously associated with the Guadalupe Antone’s.

    The inside of that club felt like (and reeked of) blues history. Watching Jimmy Vaughan on stage there evoked a sense of equilibrium akin to grooving with John Lee Hooker in Grant Park. It was a place that welcomed the blues, and the blues felt right at home in its dark and dirty confines. And in contrast to the stark sterility of its current incarnation, the Guadalupe Antone’s had lots of interesting nooks and alcoves where conversation or shenanigans could flourish amidst the pentatonic strains.

    Clifford has passed. Perhaps his indictments overshadowed his legacy in recent years, but the obits will recall that he was a contributing architect to what is glibly referred to as “the Austin vibe.” And as much as our civic leaders love to trumpet Austin’s kookie weirdness at every turn, unless they’re bringing some of Clifford’s blues and weed to the party, they don’t get it and I ain’t buyin’ it.

  3. wae (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 7:56 am

    Oh, and Lloyd Bentsen was cool too. That time when he and Clifford got busted in Laredo was claaaaaaassic.

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