Country and Americana artist-songwriter Greg Trooper, who recorded more than a dozen albums and whose songs were cut by Vince Gill, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Maura O’Connell and Robert Earl Keen, among others, died Sunday, just two days after his 61st birthday. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years.
A native of Neptune, New Jersey, born to a Pennsylvania farm girl and graphic artist father, Trooper was just out of high school when he and a friend formed a duo called the Ravioli Brothers, an East Coast version of the Flying Burrito Brothers. After relocating to Emporia, Kansas, and Austin, Texas, he moved to New York in the early Eighties, where his original songs blended Memphis soul, classic folk and literate country. With the Greg Trooper Band, he released the debut LP We Won’t Dance in 1986. The title cut was included on Vince Gill’s 1990 breakthrough album, When I Call Your Name.
In the mid-Nineties, Trooper relocated to Nashville and recorded several albums, including 1996’s Noises in the Hallway, produced by E Street Band bass player Garry Tallent and Popular Demons, the 1998 set produced by Buddy Miller. Trooper counted Americana stalwarts Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash among his fervent fan base, with the latter two contributing harmony vocals to his records. He returned to New York City, settling in Brooklyn in 2008, and continued to record, with his 13th and final album, Live at the Rock Room, recorded in Austin, released in 2015.
“Greg Trooper writes great songs, including one of my very favorite songs in the world, ‘Little Sister,'” Earle was quoted as saying on the artist’s official website. “On top of all that, there’s his voice – an instrument I have coveted for 15 years.”