Producer, songwriter, music publisher, filmmaker, visionary: Cowboy Jack Clement was all of these, but, perhaps first and foremost, the late Country Music Hall of Fame member was, throughout his lifetime, a devoted friend to countless fellow musicians. On Tuesday, during an afternoon ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Clement’s legacy was honored with the donation of his Gibson J-200 guitar to the museum’s permanent collection.
Purchased by the musician in the 1950s and played through the years by fellow Hall of Famers Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Presley, and hundreds more, the guitar was often referred to by Clement as “my baby.”
In honor of Clement, a brief musical program accompanied the donation, featuring performances by Shawn Camp, Crystal Gayle, Charley Pride and John Prine. The latter performed Clement’s 1958 Johnny Cash hit, “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” on Clement’s guitar. Clement’s longtime collaborator and friend, Dave Ferguson, led a band which also featured Pete Abbott, Lloyd Green, Jay Patten, Dave Roe, Michael Rojas and Billy Sanford.
“Cowboy Jack’s Gibson J-200 guitar is an artifact of immense consequence,” Museum CEO Kyle Young told invited guests. “Because of the generosity of the Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is now the eternal caregiver of this instrument. We will use it to educate generations of country music fans and scholars alike on one of popular music’s most significant and joyful forces.”
Active in the music industry from the mid-Fifties until his death in 2013 at age 82, Clement was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame that same year.