Clint Black - Biography
By Marcus Kagler
Contrary to popular belief, Garth Brooks wasn’t the first country artist to fuse slickly produced Top 40 rock & roll with traditional country music. Often overshadowed by Brooks’ mega-stardom, it was Clint Black who pioneered the radio friendly “neo-country” sound of the early 90’s. Born in Long Branch, New Jersey but raised in Katy, Texas, Black learned to play the harmonica by age 13. It wasn’t long before he was playing in his brother’s country band and writing songs of his own. But it wasn’t until Black and longtime friend/guitarist Hayden Nicholas started writing country/rock fusion songs, that Black found his true voice. When Bill Hamm (manager of ZZ Top) of RCA came across Black’s demo tape in 1988, he not only signed the unknown artist, he also became Black’s manager. Black’s debut single, “A Better Man” (1989 RCA) was the first country single to debut at #1 in 15 years. His debut full length, Killin’ Time (1989 RCA) soon followed and was a massive hit thanks to the strength of singles “Killin’ Time,” “Nobody’s Home,” and “Walkin’ Away.” At the 1989 Academy of Country Music Awards, Black took home awards for Best Male Vocalist, Best New Male Vocalist, Best Album, and Best Single.
By 1990, Black was officially the biggest country western music star in the world and his second release, Put Yourself in My Shoes (1990 RCA), only solidified the fact with four more top 10 singles. However, that same year Garth Brooks released his worldwide hit album, No Fences (Liberty), and it wasn’t long before the two titans of country were vying for the top spot in the charts. Unfortunately, Black would hit a snag when he became entangled in a messy royalties lawsuit with manager Hamm, which delayed the release of his next album. By the time Black’s third record, The Hard Way (RCA), was released in the summer of 1992, Brooks had become the undisputed king of modern country on the strength of his classic mega-hit album Ropin’ the Wind (1991 Capitol). Although The Hard Way received mixed reviews and didn’t outsell his previous efforts, the album was a respectable success. Throughout the remainder of the 90’s, Blacks popularity steadily declined, although even today he retains a loyal fan base.
Black continued to record, releasing No Time To Kill (1993 RCA), One Emotion (1994 RCA), Nothin' But the Tailights (1997 RCA), D'Lectrified (1999 RCA), Spend My Time (2004 Equity Music), and Drinkin' Songs & Other Logic (2005 Equity).
Aside from his music career, Black also dabbled in acting and has made appearances in TV shows like Wings and King of the Hill and feature films like Maverick and Anger Management.