Born on November 24, 1946, in Dillon, South Carolina, Earl Cranston Clark went on to become one of the most influential songwriters in country music. Many of country music’s leading legends ended up cutting Clark’s songs, including George Strait, Willie Nelson, and Tanya Tucker.
Before Clark achieved success as a songwriter, he got his start by driving buses for some of country music’s biggest stars. Just a few artists that he bussed around during the early stage of his career included Ernest Tubb, Waylon Jennings, and Jerry Reed.
More than anything else, Clark is perhaps best known for writing two songs that were big hits for Tracy Lawrence in the early 1990s. Those songs were “Can’t Break it to My Heart” and “Renegades, Rebels and Rogues.” The latter song reached the seventh spot on the Hot Country Songs chart, while the former claimed the chart’s top spot.
“Can’t Break it to My Heart” was therefore the most successful piece that Clark ever wrote, with over two million plays. “Renegades, Rebels and Rouges” was also a smash success, and it sold a million copies.
In total, Clark had over 80 songs published by BMI Publishing out of Nashville. As a member of the Lumbee Indian tribe, Clark’s accomplishments made country music history, as so far he has been the only Native American to achieve such feats in the genre.
Thanks to the songs he left behind, Clark’s legacy will continue to live on following his death on Friday (July 7) in Smyrna, Tennessee. He was 70 years old.
Clark’s obituary was published in Leader Publications, which names his surviving family members. He is survived by his brother, Joe “Fred” Clark, his sister Audrey Yarbough, his ex-wife and best friend Linda Clark, “two young woman he helped raise from a young age:” Niki Corbert and Quicha Bryson, and his many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Visitation for those wishing to pay their respects to Clark’s loved ones will begin 11 AM on Friday (July 14) at Chapel Hill Mortuary in Cedar Hill, Missouri with a funeral service to follow at 2 PM.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Clark’s family and friends during this sad time. You can remember him and his remarkable career by listening to his biggest hit as a songwriter, “Can’t Break it to My Heart,” which we have included below.