NASHVILLE—Justine Townes Earle, the 38-year-old singer-songwriter, died on Sunday, August 23, and police told Rolling Stone that it was probably from a drug overdose.
A spokesperson with the Metro Nashville Police Department told Rolling Stone that after one of Earle’s friends notified them that they had not heard from him since Thursday, the Nashville Fire Department checked his residence and found him dead. An autopsy is pending to confirm if he died due to substance abuse.
Earle’s death was announced on his official Facebook page on Sunday, followed by a confirmation from his music label New West Records.
“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Justin Townes Earle. Justin was uniquely talented and we are all devastated with this terrible loss. Our hearts are with his family and loved ones at this time,” said New West Records in a tweet.
The artist, son of the musician Steve Earle and named after folk songwriter Townes Van Zandt, grew up in Nashville with his mother Carol Ann Hunter. He released his first song “Yuma” as a solo artist in 2007 and ended up recording eight albums in his musical career. Earle won New and Emerging Artist in 2009 and Song of The Year in 2011 for “Harlem River Blues,” in the Americana Music Honors & Awards.
He had a history of substance abuse and had “multiple stints in rehab” as it says in his web page. In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Earle said that part of his troubles emerged from growing up in an unstable environment, with his father leaving and his mother having many “drunken” boyfriends.
“I discovered very fast that my way of doing things was going to get me in trouble, and I kept going with it, because I believed the myth for a long time, and I believed I had to destroy myself to make great art, ” the artist said during the interview.
A public memorial service is planned for 2021.