Clifford Antone: New York Times obituary

May 25, 2006
Clifford Antone, 56, Is Dead; Started Texas Blues Club

Clifford Antone, founder of Antone’s, the Austin, Tex., blues club that helped start the careers of Texas music artists including Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Charlie Sexton and helped turn Austin into a city that bills itself as the live music capital of the world, died at his home there on Tuesday. He was 56.

Erich Schlegel for The New York Times, 2005 Clifford Antone

Erich Schlegel for The New York Times
Clifford Antone

Mr. Antone was found dead when Austin police officers responded to a 911 call from his home, said Laura Albrecht, a spokeswoman for the department. The cause of death is being investigated but does not appear to be suspicious, she said.

In 1975 he opened Antone’s, first intended as a showcase for his beloved Chicago blues. Over the years, legends like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and B. B. King performed at the club.

“Amid this sea of scenemakers,” Robert Draper wrote in a 1997 profile for Texas Monthly magazine, Mr. Antone was “the unmistakable maker of the scene” who provided an “Atlas-like patronage of this most American of music forms.”

In the late 1960’s, Mr. Antone moved to Austin from Port Arthur, Tex., where he grew up, to attend the University of Texas; for the last few years he taught a course at the university on the history of the blues.

A 2004 documentary titled “Antone’s: Home of the Blues” premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival and is being released on DVD next month.

In 1987 Mr. Antone started Antone’s Records, a label that featured many of the club’s top acts, and also opened a record store specializing in American roots music.

The 30 years since he opened Antone’s were not always a smooth ride for Mr. Antone, who served two prison terms, one in the 1980’s for possessing marijuana and another from 2000 to 2002 for dealing more than 9,000 pounds of the drug and laundering money. After the first conviction he had to give up ownership of the club; Antone’s is currently owned by a board of directors headed by his sister, Susan Antone, who survives him.

Mr. Antone was known for his generosity to musicians. He organized a series of benefits for victims of Hurricane Katrina and recently he helped arrange an apartment and nursing care for the 92-year-old pianist Pinetop Perkins.

To read this obituary on the New York Times website, please click here.

Clifford Antone 1949 – 2006

23 May 2006: Danny Garrett mourns the passing of one of blues music’s greatest promoters — Clifford Antone of Austin, Texas.

From his statement to the Austin American-Statesman:

Clifford was an incredible force for the Blues, American popular culture, and a personal and beloved friend. It was a pleasure and honor to have worked with him. I will miss this incredible man. My condolences to his personal and musical families. A genuine Austin treasure…

dg

Antone’s, Austin’s Home of the Blues, celebrates 30 years

On 11 July 2005 Antone’s: Home of the Blues kicked off their 30th anniversary week with a special Blue Monday show, hosted by the incomparable Derek O’Brien.

This photo of (from left to right) Hubert Sumlin, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and was taken at Antone’s on July 11, 2005: 30th Anniversary Blue Monday show.

Photo by Steve Gotesky; (from left to right) Hubert Sumlin, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

Photo by Steve Gotesky; (from left to right) Hubert Sumlin, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

Willie and Fuzz played bass and drums respectively for Muddy Waters; Hubert was Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist for years.

Who say’s the blues ain’t living?
It is in Austin, Texas.