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Terry Clarke obituary | Music

My husband Terry Clarke, who has died aged 72, was a singer-songwriter of great poetic powers. He released 14 albums across a fruitful career that revealed his love of country, rockabilly, blues, folk and Irish laments.

Among his fans (and champions) was the great Johnny Cash. Cash wrote the sleeve notes for the 1993 album he made with Jesse “Guitar” Taylor and Michael Messer, Rhythm Oil, a concoction of driving blues, rock’n’roll and Tex Mex.

Terry was born in Reading, Berkshire, to Joseph Clarke, an Irish labourer who had emigrated to England as a 14-year-old, and his wife, Florence (nee Edmonds), who worked in the local Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory.

In the 1950s Terry grew up in thrall to Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Conway Twitty, and in the 60s, after attending Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic school, he moved on to Robert Palmer, Sam & Dave and Geno Washington, working as a shop assistant in the Harry Fenton fashion store in Reading, kitting out the mods and turning heads with his tonic suits and Terence Stamp cheekbones.

He began his musical career as a young teenager playing guitar in local country music groups, including the Statesmen, and moved on to be a singer and guitarist in various reggae and soul bands, until in the late 70s and early 80s he fronted and was a co-writer in the soul/funk/pop band Domino Effect, who released three singles. His first album as Terry Clarke was Call Up a Hurricane (1988), which featured his compositions of Texas rock’n’roll and classic country balladry.

Alongside his musical adventures Terry ran a window cleaning business in Reading and could often be found “on the shine” in the town centre during the early mornings. Picking up the stories of the streets, hanging out in cafes and observing the town’s characters was a part of his creative process, as was spending time by the Thames river at nearby Mapledurham, exercising his keen eye for nature, light and beauty.

Terry’s 1991 album, The Shelly River, featured a number of songs inspired by his father’s emigration experiences, and on the back of its success he toured Ireland with Henry McCullough, a former member of Spooky Tooth, Wings and the Grease Band who became a great friend.

During the 90s and early 2000s Terry also cut a handful of warm, breezy albums in Austin, Texas, a place that he loved like a native son. He spent a lot of time recording and performing in the city, including, on one occasion, opening a show for one of his heroes, Merle Haggard, alongside Taylor.

I was a fan of Terry’s: we met at a gig in 2004, fell in love, moved together to Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, and got married in 2008.

In Wales he continued to record music, and his final album, Atomic 10, issued in 2015, revealed a songwriter whose skills had matured and grown with the passing years.

He is survived by me and his daughter, Amy, from his earlier marriage to Sheila Prescott, which ended in divorce. His son by that marriage, Joseph, predeceased him.

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