Justin Townes Earle died from “probable drug overdose” say police

Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle (Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer - Getty)

A preliminary investigation into the death of Justin Townes Earle has revealed that he died from a “probable drug overdose.”

The Metro Nashville Police Department confirmed the news to the Associated Press, with spokesman Don Aaron saying police had responded to a welfare check on the singer/songwriter on Sunday after he hadn’t been heard of since Thursday last week.

A full autopsy report is pending.

News of Earle’s death was confirmed on the musician’s website at the weekend, with a statement reading: “It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin. 

“So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys. You will be missed dearly Justin.”

Earle, the son of Steve Earle, released eight albums, with his last, The Saint Of Lost Causes, coming out in May last year.

He had a turbulent childhood and struggled with addiction from an early age, using heroin by the age of 12 with his later teenage years marked by petty crime, drinking and serial drug use.

Speaking with Classic Rock in 2014, he revealed that listening to Nirvana’s unplugged version of Lead Belly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night was a turning point in his life and career.

He said: “Suddenly it all made sense to me. Everybody was taking things from the generation that had gone before. So I threw away my electric guitar and bought myself an acoustic one.”

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.