Songwriter Steven Fromholz Dies in Freak Hunting Accident

Monday, 20 Jan 2014 05:08 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Texas singer and songwriter Steven Fromholz – named the state's poet laureate in 2007 – died in a freak hunting accident on a ranch near his home, reports said Monday.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Fromholz was shot Sunday at the Flying B Ranch and later died at a hospital in El Dorado, about 40 miles south of San Angelo. He was 68.

Chief sheriff's Deputy George Ariste told the News that Fromholz and a girlfriend were going to hunt feral hogs when the accident occurred. Ariste said the singer grabbed the handle of a case that was holding a rifle. The case was unzipped at the bottom, and the gun hit the ground and discharged.

Fromholz's "I'd Have to Be Crazy," which was covered by Willie Nelson, may have been his best-known work, but "Texas Trilogy" – inspired by central Texas Bosque County – made his career, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Admirer Lyle Lovett, who covered the songs for an album in 1998, called "Daybreak," "Train Ride," and "Bosque County Romance" "a transcendent Texas bible, a local setting with universal meaning," the Chronicle reported.

"Steven Fromholz and his work will be remembered, enjoyed and studied as music and literature forever," Lovett told the Chronicle. "His insight into human nature was equaled only by his ability to write about it in such detail that he made his listeners feel as if they were standing in the shoes of his characters, seeing what they saw, feeling what they felt."

Fromholz was born in Temple, Tx., and went to North Texas State University, where he was president of the Folk Music Club, before joining the Navy.

After the service, he went to California, where he started writing poetry and immersing himself in the folk music scene, forming the duo Frummox with Dan McCrimmon in Colorado. The pair recorded "Here to There," which included "Texas Trilogy."

After the duo split, Fromholz set off on his own. But he had better luck with someone else performing his music.

In 1976, Willie Nelson put Fromholz's "I'd Have to Be Crazy" on his album, and it climbed to No. 2 on the charts, the Austin Chronicle reported after an interview with Fromholz in 1998.

"Stayed there for the longest time," he told the newspaper. "It was like the hurricane hanging over the East Coast, like Bonnie. That's the only record I've ever had any chart action on at all."

His work drew renewed attention in 1998 when Lovett covered "Texas Trilogy."

"While we were banging and booming in the mid-'70s," he told the Austin Chronicle, "when we were all on the road all the time and everybody was making lots of money and doing crazy things, Lyle and Robert Earl and that age group of people were listening to what we were doing and paying attention and learning their craft and their trade as songwriters and entertainers – just as I learned mine from watching Tom Paxton and the Kingston Trio and all that stuff when I was a kid.

"Like Lyle told me when he came to town . . . to have our picture taken for the album's artwork, he says, 'Steven, I didn't have to learn any of these songs for this album. I've been doing them since I began to learn to play.'"

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