Singer Townes Van Zandt, who wrote the country hits "If I Needed You" and "Pancho and Lefty" and gained a cult following for his blues-inspired recordings about life's losers, has died. He was 52.
Van Zandt had returned to his Smyrna home to recuperate from hip surgery last week. He died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack with friends and family nearby.His young daughter, Katie Belle, "came running in and said, `Daddy's having a fight with his heart,"' said Beverly Paul, a Sugar Hill Records spokeswoman. "They rushed into the room and Townes was already gone."
The gaunt Texas native began releasing albums in 1968, becoming one of a hard-living group of folk troubadours in that state that included Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker and Mickey Newberry.
While he was the son of a prominent oil family, his songs often told stories of prostitutes, bums, gamblers and other losers.
But he said he wasn't always so somber as the desperate people who lived in his lyrics.