Farewell to Texas Troubadour Steven Fromholz


Steven Fromholz at the Texas Book Festival in 2007.
Steven Fromholz at the Texas Book Festival in 2007.  Larry D. Moore

Texas songwriter and wordsmith Steven Fromholz died in a hunting accident this past Sunday, Jan. 19, at age 68, when a rifle he was handling on a feral hog hunt near Eldorado, south of San Angelo, fell and discharged. According to legacy.com, Fromholz’ funeral will be held at 2 p.m. this Friday at the Ft. McKavett Cemetery near San Angelo.

Born in Temple and educated at the University of North Texas in Denton, Fromholz became one of the founding fathers of Texas folk and country, performing everywhere from Houston’s Anderson Fair to Terlingua’s Starlight Theater in Big Bend, where he periodically worked as a raft guide on the Rio Grande. His long-out-of-print debut From Here to There, with Dan McCrimmon, laid the groundwork for a sound that would be built on by a subsequent generation of Texas songwriters including Lyle Lovett, who covered Fromholz’ “Bears” and “Texas Trilogy”—a three-part ode to the tiny town of Kopperl, Texas, in Bosque County, comprising “Daybreak,” “Train Ride” and “Bosque County Romance”—on 1998’s Step Inside This House album. Willie Nelson, John Denver, Hoyt Axton and Jerry Jeff Walker have also covered Fromholz’ songs.

“Texas Trilogy” was also the inspiration for a book, Texas Trilogy: Life in a Small Texas Town, by writer Craig D. Hillis and photographer Bruce F. Jordan, published by University of Texas Press in 2002 and excerpted in the Observer.

The songs alone are legacy enough to install him in the Texas canon, but Fromholz was an accomplished storyteller in multiple modes. He was named Texas’ Poet Laureate in 2007, the same year TCU Press published his New and Selected Poems.

Remembrance and notice has come from all quarters, including these from the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Press, the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Chronicle, and the Big Bend Sentinel.

The Dallas Morning News published this photo essay of late-career Fromholz.

But perhaps the best way to remember him is just to listen.