Larry Jon Wilson October 7, — June 21,  was an American country singer, guitarist and musician. Born in Swainsboro , Georgia, Wilson picked up the guitar and taught himself how to play. In , he released his debut album New Beginnings. Despite Wilson's accolades and fans, no hit record emerged. Wilson left the music industry in
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My friend, the musician Larry Jon Wilson, who has died aged 71, was that rarest of things: an honest man in a profession built on glamour. A favourite of Nashville's leading singer-songwriters, from Willie Nelson to Kris Kristofferson and Will Oldham, he never achieved their commercial success. One of the first things he told me, in his sandpaper southern drawl, was: "Every time a record company comes calling, the buzzards start circling the house. Larry Jon was born in Georgia and went to military school there: an experience, he said, that failed to damage him too severely. He attended the University of Georgia, and in the late 60s and early 70s lived in Florida. It was in the Coconut Grove neighbourhood of Miami, watching the singer-songwriter Fred Neil, that he decided to follow a career in music. He liked to say he was born in , the year he gave up his job selling boat varnish and landed in Nashville. He quickly became known as a singer and writer of intensely private, painfully moving tales of southern life. He signed to Monument Records and his first album, New Beginnings, proved a revelation among the hipsters and critics of Nashville. When a film crew came to document country music's burgeoning "outlaw movement", they made straight for Larry Jon's door.
He attended high school at Carlisle Military Academy in Bamberg, South Carolina, before attending the University of Georgia, where he majored in chemistry. From to he worked in Langley, South Carolina, for United Merchants and Manufacturers as a technical consultant in fiberglass manufacturing. At the age of thirty, Wilson received his first guitar and taught himself to play.
He can break your heart with a voice like a cannonball. Larry Jon Wilson came to the party late. When he arrived in Nashville, country soul pioneer Tony Joe White had already made six albums. Townes Van Zandt had made seven, Mickey Newbury eight. Kristofferson, the accepted High Priest of the New Nashville, had made five. Larry Jon, by the time he arrived, had spent ten years in corporate America. He did not start playing guitar until the age of 30, but five years later he released his debut, New Beginnings and followed it just a year later with Let Me Sing My Song To You, both on Monument Records. He was a singer and writer of intensely private, painfully moving tales of southern life. With his deep, papa-bear voice, funky southern groove, and richly evocative narratives of rural Georgia, Larry Jon was a unique stylist but his gutsy, greasy sound did not translate into sales. Too funky for the country crowd, too heartfelt for pop radio, he fell between the cracks.