Super Rare Clint Black Demo Tape Found at a Goodwill

photo: Kevin Mazur

Well this is pretty damn cool. Kevin Curtin, who is the man about the streets for the Austin Chronicle, was rummaging through one of those Goodwill outlet facilities where they sell you stuff at a $1.50 a pound (this was pre pandemic, mind you), and along with some other cool musical stuff, he came across a cassette tape that appears (and sounds) to be one of the first, if not very first demo tape of none other than country legend Clint Black.

On a totally black cassette tape (what else would you expect?) that is simply marked “Clint Black” with the phone number “589-0560” on a label, someone who most certainly sounds like a young Clint Black spends 7 minutes and 59 seconds reciting minute-long renditions of solid gold hits, some from country like George Strait’s “Fool Hearted Memory,” and others like Jim Croce’s “Don’t Mess Around With Jim.”

“I put the tape on an era-appropriate Sony boombox and hit play,” Kevin Curtain writes in The Chronicle. “What I heard wasn’t what I expected. Rather than primitive versions of material from ‘Killin’ Time’ and other seminal songs from a budding country hero, out of the speakers emanated—presumably—an advertisement from a guy who came up singing cover songs in restaurants and bars.”

So is it really some of the earliest, if not the earliest recordings of Clint Black? Kevin Curtin sent in some requests to the Clint Black camp to no avail, and Saving Country Music has received no response from reps either, so there’s no guarantee this is actually Clint Black singing. But who else would want to impersonate Clint Black before Clint Black was Clint Black?

The timeline and circumstances also line up pretty well. Raised in Katy, TX on the west side of Houston, Clint Black dropped out of high school to pursue music with his brothers. As he labored as a construction worker and in the fishing industry by day, he would play music in lounges by night, and his repertoire included a wide variety of genres, not just country. It was the success he saw fellow Texan George Strait achieve with his more neotraditional style that inspired Black to go country full-time.

Also, Clint Black’s original manager Bill Ham (known for being the mastermind behind ZZ Top) was based in Austin about the time Clint Black was coming up. Ham is who got Clint Black his first deal with RCA, which led to Black recording his debut record Killin’ Time, crowning Clint Black as a member of the legendary “Class of ’89” in country music.

Kurtis Machler at Million Dollar Sound in Austin loaded up the music onto a YouTube player, and you can find the track list below. The songs are just Clint and an acoustic guitar, but it does sound like some bass accompaniment was added as well.

And if this recently-unearthed Clint Black material doesn’t suit your fancy, you can wait until June 19th when Clint’s new album Out Of Sane is released.

(Possible) Clint Black Demo Tape Track List:

1. “Don’t Mess Around with Jim” (Jim Croce)
2. “Old Man” (Neil Young)
3. “Fool Hearted Memory” (George Strait)
4. “Two More Bottles of Wine” (Delbert McClinton, Emmylou Harris)
5. “Leader of the Band” (Dan Fogelberg)
6. “Night Moves” (Bob Seger)

If the video comes up “unavailable,” CLICK HERE to listen.

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