Guitarist Stephen Bruton, a good friend of Michael’s passed away on Saturday.
Stephen Bruton, a real-life guitar hero who played with everyone from Kris Kristofferson to Elvis Costello, died Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Fort Worth native was 60 and had been in California working on the soundtrack to Jeff Bridges’ new movie, Crazy Heart, said his wife of 13 years, Mary Keating-Bruton.
“Cancer is a very evil disease, but he’d work between treatments,” she said.
Mr. Bruton’s friends said he was determined to beat the throat cancer that was diagnosed in 2007.
“Stephen… never gave up to the very end,” said Fort Worth blues singer-songwriter Delbert McClinton, Mr. Bruton’s friend of 40 years. “He never complained, and he was always upbeat about it. Everyone should hope they can have as much grace as Stephen did in the end.”
Mr. Bruton described his eclectic and influential career as simply being “a guitar player.”
His last concert in Fort Worth was in May 2008 at Bass Hall with Kristofferson.
He was tapped as Kristofferson’s guitarist at 22 and had achieved acclaim playing with the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, McClinton, and many others. In March, Mr. Bruton took home the award for best acoustic guitarist at the Austin Music Awards.
Fort Worth is home for the musical Bruton family. The family owns the Record Town music shop across the street from TCU.
The store is run by Mr. Bruton’s brother, Sumter. Their father was a well-known jazz drummer.
Mr. Bruton had beaten drugs and alcohol and then helped turn other musicians toward sobriety, McClinton said. “I was convinced when I saw him a few months ago that it would be the last time I would ever see him,” McClinton said. “Then he came back and had maybe the best three months of his life. He was working and doing what he wanted to do.”
Mr. Bruton will be remembered in Austin and Fort Worth for more than his singing and songwriting, said Glen Clark, another musician friend.
“He truly was a giving person,” Clark said. “I can’t tell you how many times he’d come back from somewhere and just out of the blue, he had brought you a present. It was almost embarrassing.”
Asleep at the Wheel guitarist John Nicholas said Mr. Bruton was an amazing talent who had an ear for good music. What he admired most was Mr. Bruton’s work ethic, Nicholas said.
“He was born with a gift and talent,” Nicholas said. “But a lot of people who are born gifted and talented never reach their potential. What made him so good was that he worked his ass off.”
Through the two years of cancer, Mr. Bruton was a warrior, Keating-Bruton said.
She said arrangements for services, which will be in Fort Worth, have not been finalized.
“I had some beautiful years with him,” she said.