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  • Justin Townes Earle was a singer-songwriter and musician from Nashville, Tennessee who died from an accidental drug overdose at age 38.

    How Justin Townes Earle Died

    Justin Townes Earle’s death was announced on August 23, 2020. The 38-year-old died on August 20 and was a victim of a deadly dose of fentanyl.

    The Nashville police performed a welfare check on the artist in his apartment when his body was found. Nashville police stated Earle had likely passed from a probable drug overdose.

    However, it wasn’t until December 1, 2020, when the cause of death was officially revealed as an accidental drug overdose due to the usage of fentanyl-laced cocaine.

    Earle’s family announced on social media the results of Earle’s death and acknowledged illicit drug abuse in the hopes of raising awareness regarding how easy it can be to overdose on a drug which contains even the smallest amount of fentanyl.

    About Justin Townes Earle

    Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle was born in Nashville, Tennessee on January 4, 1982, to parents Carol Ann Hunter and Steve Earle, a musician of the touring band The Dukes. Justin was named after his father’s musical mentor, Townes Van Zandt.

    Justin Earle’s father Steve left the family due to drug use when Justin was only two years old. 10 years later, his father became sober and rejoined the family.

    Musical Style & Accolades

    Earle became familiar with various styles of music during his early career. For instance, he joined The Distributors rock band as well as The Swindlers, which was a band known for their ragtime and bluegrass music.

    In later years, Earle would combine these types of music, creating a mixture of all, known as alt-country.

    In 2009, he won the Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year. In addition to this, he received the Song of the Year award in 2011 for “Harlem River Blues.”

    Earle moved to New York in 2009, but returned to Nashville several years later. In 2014, he married Jenn Marie Maynard and their daughter, Etta St. James, was born in 2017.

    Throughout his career, Earle had several music labels including New West Records and Vagrant. He performed at numerous locations across the country including the Grand Ole Opry, South by Southwest, and Bonnaroo.

    In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked Earle’s album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now as number 37 in the top 50 albums of the year.


    Earle released numerous albums before his death. In 2007, he released his first extended play (EP) 6-song album titled Yuma. In addition to this, other albums released include:

    • The Good Life (2008)
    • Midnight at the Movies (2009)
    • Harlem River Blues (2010)
    • Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now (2012)
    • Single Mothers (2014)
    • Absent Fathers (2015)
    • Kids in the Street (2017)
    • The Saint of Lost Causes (2019)

    Justin Townes Earle’s History Of Substance Abuse

    Like his father, Earle began abusing drugs at a young age, or about the age of 12. Throughout the course of his life, Earle would periodically regain sobriety.

    In 2010, he relapsed and became involved in a fight with a club owner in Indianapolis, Indiana. He relapsed later in 2016 as well.

    Did Justin Townes Earle Attend Drug Rehab?

    Although there were many moments of drug abuse in Earle’s life, he made numerous attempts at receiving addiction treatment. In fact, Earle sought care at treatment centers nine times in total, all of which allowed him to maintain sobriety immediately following departure.

    However, Earle continued to relapse over the years, eventually resulting in his death. 

    Recovery Is Possible

    Earle’s death serves as a reminder to avoid illicit drugs, as they can become contaminated with dangerous substances such as fentanyl, which can lead to a fatal overdose.

    Yet, recovery from addiction is possible with the care of compassionate healthcare professionals, evidence-based services, and ongoing support from family members, loved ones, and friends.

    To learn how we address cocaine addiction in both inpatient and outpatient settings, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
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