Jack Clement Worked With Some Of Country Music's Best

We remember recording producer Cowboy Jack Clements, who died Thursday in Nashville at the age of 82. In the 1950s, he helped record Elvis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison when he worked at Sun Records in Memphis. He also discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and began a life-long friendship with Johnny Cash. Clement later provided the signature sound to one of Cash's biggest hits, "Ring of Fire."

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A moment now to remember a longtime fixture in the Nashville music scene. Music producer, engineer, and sometimes songwriter Cowboy Jack Clement. He died yesterday at the age of 82. If Clement had only listened to his parents and become a dentist, this guy might never have been a star.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' GOIN' ON")

JERRY LEE LEWIS: (Singing) Come on over, baby. Whole lot of shaking going on.

BLOCK: And "Ring of Fire" might not have had its signature sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RING OF FIRE")

BLOCK: Jack Clement spent the early part of his career at Sun Studio in Memphis. That's where he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and produced Lewis' hit "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Clement worked with Elvis, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. He also wrote a couple of songs for Johnny Cash.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BALLAD OF A TEENAGE QUEEN")

JOHNNY CASH: (Singing) There's a story in our town...

BLOCK: Beginning a friendship that extended beyond Sun Studio. In 1963, when Cash was desperate for a hit, he called on Clement to help him record "Ring of Fire."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED AUDIO)

JACK CLEMENT: These guys sitting there, these two horn players, they didn't know what they were going to do. And I said, go (humming melody).

I wrote that down. I took my J-200 Gibson guitar, and we cut it.

BLOCK: That was Cowboy Jack Clement from an interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame. He'll be inducted there in October. Cowboy Jack Clement died yesterday from liver cancer. He was 82.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RING OF FIRE")

CASH: (Singing) I fell into a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher. And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire. The ring of fire. The taste of love is sweet.

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