Jimmy LaFave, who moved to Austin in the mid-1980s and became one of the city’s most prominent singer-songwriters of the past several decades, died Sunday night after a yearlong battle with an aggressive form of cancer. He was 61.
Jesse LaFave, a nephew, confirmed Monday that Jimmy died at home in the company of family and loved ones about 9 p.m.
“It was almost like something out of a movie, but a really sad movie where you already knew how it was going to end,” he said. “But he wanted to pass away at his house, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Born July 12, 1955, in Wills Point, about an hour east of Dallas, LaFave moved with his family to rural Payne County in Oklahoma as a youth and attended Donart High School in nearby Stillwater, Okla. A photo from 1973 shows a teenage LaFave performing in the school’s talent show. His childhood acoustic guitar is featured in a display at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla.
He played regularly in Stillwater nightclubs after high school and, along with other rising Oklahoma songwriters of the era such as Bob Childers and Terry Buffalo Ware, helped establish what became known as red-dirt music, a rootsy mix of country, folk, blues and rock. He recorded his first two albums during that time, though they received little notice beyond his home region.
After LaFave moved to Austin, he gradually rose to the fore of the city’s music scene. His 1988 tape “Highway Angels … Full Moon Rain” was recognized as the best cassette release at that year’s Austin Music Awards. Soon he began hosting a weekly open mic at Chicago House, a popular Sixth Street acoustic haven in the 1990s. Early on, he began wearing the vintage leather driving cap that became a nearly omnipresent part of his outfit onstage.
Read full article: Jimmy LaFave, renowned singer-songwriter, dies of cancer at 61