Stephen Bruton, one of Austin's great pickers, songwriters, and good citizens, died Saturday of throat cancer, which he had battled for years, according to a press release by his label, New West Records. The 60-year-old Bruton came out of the school of influential Fort Worth roots-rockers: Delbert McClinton, Jerry Lynn Williams, T-Bone Burnett and countless others. He was working on a film with Burnett in Los Angeles when his health deteriorated and he passed away quickly, the New West statement said. In a 44-year career, Bruton collaborated with an amazing list of performers, but his longest association was as lead guitar player for Kris Kristofferson, who kept Bruton on retainer for years. Bruton played his first professional gig at 17 with Kristofferson.
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Bruton also lent his chops to Bonnie Raitt (and appeared in the popular video for her hit song "Thing Called Love") and McClinton, and toured as part of Bob Dylan's band. Raitt performed a duet of Bruton's "Getting Over You" with Willie Nelson on Nelson's 1993 album Across the Borderline. Bruton was a noted producer, in particular for Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Alejandro Escovedo. Bruton also had five solo albums, the last three on New West Records. For the past few years, he performed as part of the Resentments, an informal Austin supergroup featuring Jon Dee Graham, Scrappy Jed Newcomb and others. Since kicking alcohol and drug addiction almost 20 years ago, Bruton had since counseled and worked with other musicians trying to break away from addiction. Bruton's funeral will be this weekend in Fort Worth. Arrangements are pending. Bruton on video: "Waiting for a Long Time," "Getting Over You," "Bigger Wheel"