Clint Patrick Black is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor. Signed to RCA Records in 1989, Black made his debut with his Killin’ Time album, which produced four straight Number One singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. Although his momentum gradually slowed throughout the 1990s, Black consistently charted hit songs into the 2000s. He has amassed more than thirty singles on the U.S. Billboard country charts, in addition to releasing nine studio albums and several compilation albums. In 2003, Black founded his own record label, Equity Music Group. Black has also ventured into acting, having made a cameo appearance in the 1994 film Maverick, as well as a starring role in 1998’s Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack.
Clint Black was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, one of four children born to G.A. and Ann Black. The family moved back to Texas, where G.A. Black had been raised, before Clint was one year old. He was raised in Katy, Texas. Music was always present in the house. Black taught himself to play harmonica before he was 13, and at 14 wrote his first song. His father remarked that it was at that age that the parents “first noticed that he had a great voice”. By fifteen, Black had learned to play guitar. As a teenager Black joined his elder brothers, Kevin and Bryan, in their small band. On Saturday afternoons, the family would host backyard barbecues and invite the neighborhood to listen to the boys sing. Some weekends would attract up to 70 people. Black eventually dropped out of high school to play with his brothers, before becoming a solo act.
Black was initially drawn to a variety of musical genres. According to his father, he chose to focus on country music in the early 1980s, after singers George Strait and Reba McEntire transformed the genre. For six years, Black supported himself as a construction worker, bait cutter, and fishing guide, while singing at various lounges as a solo singer and guitarist. At one of the gigs he met another guitarist, Hayden Nicholas. The two men connected musically and began a song writing partnership that would last decades. In the late 1980s, Black delivered a demo of their collaboration “Nobody’s Home” to record promoter Sammy Alfano. Within two days of that delivery, Black was invited to a meeting with Bill Ham, who managed ZZ Top.
Black soon signed with RCA Records, at that time considered one of the “most aggressive” labels in country music. His first album, Killin’ Time, was released in 1989. Each song on the album was penned at least in part by Black; four of them were attributed solely to him, while the rest were collaborations with Nicholas. In a departure from most other country albums, Black used his road band instead of session musicians to record Killin’ Time. The album was a critical and commercial success, reaching Number One on the Billboard Country Albums chart and certified platinum in 1990. The first single, “A Better Man”, reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in early June. This marked the first time in 14 years that a debut single by a male artist had peaked at the top of the chart. In total, five singles off of his debut album reached number 1, the first time any country artist had accomplished this feat. Black swept the Country Music Association’s awards in 1989, winning in six different categories, including the Horizon Award for best newcomer. At the end of the year, his singles, “A Better Man” and “Killin’ Time” place number 1 and number 2 on the year-end country singles charts. It had been 36 years since another artist had claimed both top spots in a single year. Looking back at the early stages of his career, Black recalled: “‘At one point, I knew I crossed this line out of obscurity and I felt like no matter what happened from that point on I would always be remembered for “Killin’ Time.” There was this kind of mixed feeling of remorse and excitement.'”