People

Charley Crockett – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroAmerican singer and songwriter
Is Singer 
Musician 
Guitarist 
Songwriter 
From United States of America 
Type Music 
Gendermale
Birth 1984, San Benito, United States of America
Age:36 years

Charley Crockett (born 1984) is an American blues, country and Americana singer, guitarist, and songwriter. He has released five albums since 2015, with his most recent, Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza, peaking at number 10 in the US Billboard Blues Albums chart.

He has performed at venues on the same bill as Justin Townes Earle, Citizen Cope, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Sean Hayes, Tab Benoit, Ace Enders, and Leon Bridges.

Life and career

A distant relative of Davy Crockett, Charley was born in San Benito, Texas, United States. The son of a single mother with an older brother and sister, Crockett was raised in a trailer park in Los Fresnos, Texas. His mother relocated the family to Dallas, and Crockett spent the summer months with his uncle, who lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Upon leaving high school, at the age of 17 Crockett decided to travel with his guitar, acquired by his mother from a pawn shop. Crockett noted “I taught myself how to play and started to write songs immediately, without any chord knowledge or anything. I didn’t know what key I was in for 12 years, but my ear was really good, and I could play in any key and any chord. I just didn’t know what it was.” His early musical influences came from hearing hip hop, and became fascinated with the samples used. Crockett said “I got into Curtis Mayfield through samples of his songs by other artists, and Nina Simone was through a sample. Even J. Cole, I was listening to a song of his (“Kenny Lofton”), and it was based on the sample from the Manhattans version of “Hurt”.

Crockett played music on the streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans and in Deep Ellum, Dallas as a teenager. Later he traveled further afield by hitchhiking and riding freight, before by 2009 busking in New York City. As he improved his performing, Crockett organized a street band called the Trainrobbers, which caught the attention of a Manhattan-based representative for Sony Music. She signed the 26 years old Crockett to a two-year management contract, although he rejected a publishing deal. Eventually tired of life on the streets and the pending expiry of the contract, Crockett relocated to Northern California, where he combined working on farms and communes with performing for three more years. Crockett then existed on the streets in Paris, France, for a year, and briefly lived in Spain and Morocco.

During these years, Crockett struggled to stay the right side of the law. In the US, he was arrested for the possession of cannabis in 2014, for which he remains under probation. Worse followed, courtesy of his brother, who coerced Crockett into a criminal operation. Crockett’s name was forged onto documents, and so he evaded the eventual potential prosecution, however his brother was sentenced to seven years in prison for dealing in around $40 million worth of securities fraud. Crockett noted later, “People think my story is far-fetched, but the thing is, I’ve toned it down.”

He returned to Texas and after settling in Dallas, self-released his debut album, A Stolen Jewel, in May 2015. It landed him the Dallas Observer Music Award for ‘Best Blues Act’. The lo-fi collection contained a cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Juanita.” Crockett also befriended Leon Bridges at this time, before Crockett released a blues dominated album, In The Night, in 2016. In The Night contained a selection of Crockett penned numbers, along with a cover of his hometown hero Freddy Fender’s “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. Fort Worth Star-Telegram called In The Night “an impressive calling card, full of Crockett’s plaintive soulfulness and swinging tempos”. Crockett spent the next year touring to promote his work, playing over 125 shows in total. He toured with the Turnpike Troubadours, Lucero, Shinyribs, Samantha Fish, and Old 97’s, among others.

After relocating to Austin, Texas, Crockett’s next release was a collection of covers of country songs, Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee (2017), which was issued on Thirty Tigers. Tracks included the Roy Acuff penned “Night Train to Memphis”, Tanya Tucker’s “The Jamestown Ferry” plus Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonkin'”, all incorporating Crockett’s clipped, hiccuped Texan drawl. Other tracks on the album were originally recorded by Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, and Webb Pierce (“I Ain’t Never”).

In 2018, he released Lonesome as a Shadow, a collection of purely original songs. It was recorded at Sam C. Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, and produced by Matt Ross-Spang. The opening track, “I Wanna Cry” was written for his sister who had died from a methamphetamine overdose. The album was dedicated to Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas. Following its April release date, Crockett toured again backed by his band the Blue Drifters. His dates included venues such as the House of Blues in Houston, Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club, The Mint in Los Angeles and The Fillmore in San Francisco. In addition, he performed at festival dates such as the Wheatland Music Festival, Portland, Oregon’s Pickathon and Austin City Limits Music Festival.

In late 2018, Crockett issued his latest album, Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza. Crockett noted that “Lil G.L. is my side name, like Hank [Williams] had Luke the Drifter. I use it for all my side projects and cover projects”. He explained the moniker was given to him by a local blues drummer, Jay Moeller, in reference to the obscure R&B singer G. L. Crockett. AllMusic stated “Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza is a companion of sorts to Charley Crockett’s 2017 Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee“. The album was primarily another compilation of cover versions, although Crockett’s definition of the blues encompasses tracks including Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City”; Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis” and Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”. In addition, Crockett covered work made in the past by Ernest Tubb, George Jones, and T-Bone Walker. Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza peaked at number 10 in the Billboard Blues Albums chart.

In early January 2019, Crockett underwent open-heart surgery. Pre-assessments for the surgery exposed that Crockett had Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, a congenital heart condition, and that Crockett’s heart had had two out of three aortic valve flaps fused together

Discography

Albums

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsSales
US BluesUS Heat
A Stolen Jewel
  • Release date: May 5, 2015
  • Label: Charley Crockett
In The Night
  • Release date: June 6, 2016
  • Label: Son of Davy
Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee
  • Release date: September 8, 2017
  • Label: Son of Davy
Lonesome as a Shadow
  • Release date: April 20, 2018
  • Label: Son of Davy
14
Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza
  • Release date: December 7, 2018
  • Label: Son of Davy / Thirty Tigers
1110
The Valley
  • Release date: September 20, 2019
  • Label: Son of Davy / Thirty Tigers
19
  • US: 1,000
“—” denotes releases that did not chart