100 Greatest Men: #63. Clint Black

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

The Class of 1989 permanently changed the face of country music.  Clint Black was its valedictorian.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Texas, Black’s vocal talent was evident at an early age.  He played in a band with his older brothers, and taking a gamble, he dropped out of high school and pursued a solo career.

The new traditionalist movement of the early eighties inspired him to commit himself to the country music genre.   As he honed his craft throughout the eighties, he met songwriter and guitarist Hayden Nicholas, who would become an instrumental component of Black’s success.

Signing with RCA, he recorded his debut album with his road band.  Black wrote or co-wrote every track on Killin’ Time, and the 1989 release had a seismic impact on country music.  Black became the first country artist in history to have his first four singles reach #1, and the album quickly reached multi-platinum status.  Beyond its sales and radio impact, Killin’ Time was widely hailed by critics and genre enthusiasts as a masterpiece.

The impact of Black opened the doors for fellow artists like Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, and Alan Jackson to find similar massive success with their debut albums.  Together, they rejuvenated the country music market, putting it on the even playing field with pop, rock, and R&B that it still enjoys today.  Black won several major industry awards, and then had another multi-platinum album with his sophomore set, Put Yourself in My Shoes.

Throughout the nineties, Black continued to write and record radio hits.  Even as his album sales cooled to platinum and then gold, he still maintained a streak of top ten hits.  It wasn’t until his 29th solo single, “Loosen Up My Strings” in 1998, that he missed the top ten.   To a certain extent, Black’s profile was reduced because of the very door that he opened.  The flood of talent that followed in his wake included major talents who soon overshadowed him.

The tail end of his run with RCA found him recording with wife Lisa Hartman Black, and they enjoyed a big hit with their duet, “When I Said I Do.”  Collaborations with Wynonna, Steve Wariner, Roy Rogers and Martina McBride also gained positive attention.   In the new century, Black took the bold step of launching his own label, Equity Records, resulting in two studio albums that achieved moderate success.  One of them, 2004’s Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic, was his most critically acclaimed set in years.

His most recent release is 2007’s Love Songs, which featured re-recordings of some of his hit ballads from the nineties.  He’s kept his profile alive with various film and television appearances, and he does some light touring, preferring at this stage to spend as much time as possible with his family.

Essential Singles:

  • A Better Man, 1989
  • Killin’ Time, 1989
  • Nobody’s Home, 1990
  • State of Mind, 1993
  • Something That We Do, 1997

Essential Albums:

  • Killin’ Time, 1989
  • Put Yourself in My Shoes, 1990
  • The Hard Way, 1992
  • Nothin’ but the Taillights, 1997
  • Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic, 2005

Next: #62. Red Foley

Previous: #64. Jerry Reed

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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5 Comments

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5 Responses to 100 Greatest Men: #63. Clint Black

  1. Great read. I would probably rate “Killin’ Time” and “Nobody’s Home” as my two favorite Clint Black singles. A great voice, and so many great songs.

  2. bobNo Gravatar

    I’ve always loved Black’s voice but I’m probably in the minority in that for the most part I’m not crazy about his material – and I know that he wrote most of his songs.

    Some of my CB favorites include two songs he wrote with Skip Ewing, “Something That We Do” and “Love She Can’t Live Without”, his duet with Wynonna, “A Bad Goodbye”, a solo writing effort, and his cover of “Desperado” from “Common Thread”.

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  4. JoshNo Gravatar

    “Burn One Down” is one of my favorite songs by anyone. Just a perfectly-written country song and an incredible vocal performance.

  5. Motown MikeNo Gravatar

    Clint Black is one of my favorite artists, probably in my top 10 or 15 of country artists. He carried the traditionalist flag for the genre in the 90’s better than anyone not named Alan Jackson or George Strait. Some of my favorite Clint Black singles, in no order…
    -“Burn One Down”
    -Nobody’s Home”
    -“Killing Time”
    -“Nothing But the Taillights”
    -“A Bad Goodbye with Wynonna Judd”
    -“State of Mind”
    -“Half the Man”
    -“A Good Run of Bad Luck”