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Townes Van Zandt Biography

Last updated: 01/02/2011 11:00:00 AM

Townes is a songwriter and singer who usually performs original material, while occasionally performing traditional folk and blues classics, especially those of a major early influence, Lightnin' Hopkins. He has recorded ten studio albums and released five live recordings on a variety of labels before his death. Currently, (May 2001), 25 albums havebeen released and several more are upcoming.

Townes was born on March 7, 1944. He lived in a number of areas growing up, but is most strongly associated with the Houston/Austin axis of the '70s,and has lived in Nashville since the 1980s. Although none of his recordings sold extremely well, several of his songs have been major hits for other artists (especially Pancho & Lefty and If I Needed You). He toured the world regularly, usually appearing alone with his guitar, although he has appeared with Guy Clark on some tours, and fronted various acoustic and electric bands, mostly throughot the 1980s.

More on Townes' lineage and biographical data (provided by the Van Zandt Society and Jeanene Van Zandt, updated 5/26/01 with info provided by Robert Hardy):

On Townes' Lineage:
We have traced the lineage of Townes Van Zandt this farback. Do you have anything going farther back and can we get this information registered with The Van Zandt Society? (contact Jeanene Van Zandt).

Jacob Van Zandt Sr. was born about 1750, came from Holland with the Moravian Colony that settled in Pennsylvania and later moved to North Carolina. He married Catherine Moon of Virginia who was born in 1751.About the beginning of the 19th century they moved to Franklin County, TN. Both are buried in Salem TN.

Jacob Van Zandt Jr. was born in 1786 and died in 1834. He married Mary Isaacs, born in 1795 and died in 1840. Both are buried in Salem TN.

Isaac Van Zandt was born in Franklin County, TN July 10, 1812. In 1833 he married Francis Cooke Lipscomb born in 1816. He died October 11,1847 and is buried in Marshall, TX. She died in Ft. Worth in 1909 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery there.

Isaac Lycurgus Van Zandt was born January 5, 1840. He married Ellen Henderson who was born in 1849 in Shelby County TX. He died in 1935 and both are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Ft. Worth.

Townes' paternal grandparents were:
William Liscomb Van Zandt was born Feb. 3, 1875 in Tarrant County TX. He married Bell Williams [born June 30, 1882] also of Tarrant County TX. He died April 8, 1948. She died in Feb. 24, 1965. Both are buried in Dido Cemetery, Tarrant County.

Townes' parents were:
Harris Williams Van Zandt born 1913 in Dido Community, Tarrant County, TX. He married Dorothy Townes of Houston, TX in 1940. He died in Houston in Jan. 1966. and she in Sept. 1983. Both are buried in River Oaks Cemetery in Houston.

Marriages and children:
John Townes Van Zandt was born March 7, 1944 in Ft. Worth Texas.

He married Fran Petters in 1965. The marriage produced a son, John Townes Van Zandt II born April 11, 1969 in Houston TX. Townes and his first wife (Fran) were divorced in January 1970.

Townes married his second wife, Cindy, in Nashville in September 1978 (they had lived together since late 1974); they were divorced on February 10 1983 in Travis County Texas.

Townes third and final marriage was on March 14, 1983, in Austin to Jeanene Munselle, who was born in Corpus Christi,
TX. on February 21, 1957. They produced a son and daughter, William Vincent Van Zandt born March 24, 1983 and Katie Belle Van Zandt born February 14, 1992, all living as of 2001. They were divorced May 2, 1994 and lived apart for the last three and a half years of Townes' life, she in Smyrna, Tennessee, and he in Nashville (briefly), and then in Mt Juliet, Tennessee.

Townes died at his house on the lake in Mt Juliet, TN of either a heart attack or a blood clot following hip surgery on New Years Day, 1997, the same day his idol, Hank Williams, passed away. Some of his remains (ashes) are buried in Dido Cemetery,Tarrant County, Texas.

Much more biographical information can be found at the Blue Sky and Lone Star Webstation web sites.