Stephen Bruton (1948-2009)

The spirit chaser and songwriter passes on

Jon Dee Graham & Stephen Bruton
Jon Dee Graham & Stephen Bruton

“The sum of my parts somehow looks larger than I do,” Stephen Bruton told the Chronicle in 1999, shortly after the release of his third solo album, Nothing but the Truth (New West). “I think that's a good thing.”

A songwriter and spirit chaser, Bruton was South Austin’s Renaissance man: producing pivotal albums for Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Alejandro Escovedo, backing Kris Kristofferson and Bonnie Raitt, playing alongside Jon Dee Graham in the Resentments, and carving his way into Texas mythology with a series of stellar solo offerings.

Bruton succumbed to cancer this morning in Los Angeles. In early 2007, he was first diagnosed with throat cancer but, after a series of treatments, made a celebrated return at the Road to Austin extravaganza in May of that year.

When the Chronicle last spoke with Bruton in September 2008, from the set of Crazy Horse, whose soundtrack he was co-writing and co-producing with T Bone Burnett, he was cautiously optimistic about the future, yet still working as hard as ever. He had recently finished a new album with the Resentments and was writing material for a follow-up to his last solo album, 2005's From the Five.

“I’ve been taking long walks, doing a little bit of running,” Bruton reflected. “You live every day; that’s what you do.” No one did it better.

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Stephen Bruton

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