Townes van Zandt
March 7, 1944- January 1, 1997. While alive, Townes van Zandt was labeled as a cult musician; though he had a small and devoted fan base, he never had a successful album or single. In 1983, six years after Emmylou Harris had first popularized it, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song “Pancho and Lefty,” scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Despite achievements like these, the bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins, and on friends’ couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism and his tendency to tell tall tales. When young, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory. Townes van Zandt died on New Years Day 1997 from health problems stemming from years of substance abuse.