John Lomax III
John Lomax III is a country music journalist, music distributor and manager who has worked with Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, David Schnaufer, and many others. In 2010, Lomax was recognized for his work sharing country music with the Jo Walker-Meador International Award.
John Lomax III was born on August 20, 1944 in Geneva, New York. Shortly after he was born, the Lomax family moved to Houston, TX, where he spent his childhood. Lomax attended West University Elementary, Pershing Junior High, and Lamar High School. After Lomax graduated from high school in 1962, he headed to University of Texas at Austin to study history. He graduated with a B.A. in 1967 and a MS in Library Science in 1970.
He grew up in a family of folklorists and music researchers, so Lomax spent a lot of time listening to music and exploring the Houston music scene when he was younger. He knew Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and many others through his father, John A. Lomax, Jr. Alan Lomax, John's uncle, was a documentarian of folk music who's recording work exists in the Library of Congress.
After a brief stint in New York, Lomax moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1973. By the time he moved to Nashville, he already knew most of the Texan singer-songwriters artists living there who hung around Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt; he also met artists like Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, and Richard Dobson. He originally went to Nashville for a recording session with Rocky Hill. Later, he worked as a publicist with Jack Clement’s Information Services Incorporated, a division of Jack Music Incorporated.
Lomax saw Townes Van Zandt play for the first time in Austin, TX when he was attending college. In the mid-70s, he worked with Guy Clark to encourage Van Zandt to move from Colorado to Nashville. Lomax became Van Zandt’s manager when he finally arrived, though he had no prior management experience. Lomax placed an ad in Rolling Stone to encourage readers to sign up for the Townes Van Zandt fan club, through which he was able to amass a large following of people interested in “America’s greatest songwriter.” The letters he received in response to the ad were “eloquently written,” with some saying his songs had saved their lives. Lomax managed Van Zandt from 1976-1978, during which time they re-released five of Van Zandt's old albums from the Poppy label, released the long-awaited Live at the Old Quarter, and produced the Flyin’ Shoes album. During this time, Lomax and his brother Joe compiled For the Sake of the Song, a book of lyrics, sheet music, photos, and essays on Van Zandt. While managing Van Zandt, Lomax found the beginnings of deeply tangled copyrighting and financial issues that would beleaguer Van Zandt for the rest of his life. Lomax was replaced as manager by Lamar Fike before he could further investigate on Van Zandt's behalf.
When the Heartworn Highways director James Szalapski came to Nashville, Lomax recommended he focus the documentary on lesser known artists on the rise, including Clark, Van Zandt, Charlie Daniels, David Allan Coe, and Steve Young. Lomax worked as talent coordinator for the documentary when filming began.
In 1974, Lomax met Steve Earle. He kept up with Earle for years and eventually worked as his manager from 1983-1986. Lomax was able to get Rick Blackburn’s interest, but Earle’s early singles for Blackburn’s Epic label gained little traction. Lomax and Earle later headed to MCA, where Earle released the Guitar Town album (1986). The album reached the top of the Billboard country album chart and its titular track peaked at number 7 on the country singles chart. Guitar Town also brought Earle his first Grammy nominations for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song.
Lomax continued to manage acts after separating from Earle. These groups include David Schnaufer (1986-1994), The Cactus Brothers (1991-1996), Kimber Clayton (1996-2000), Kasey Chambers (1996-2001), and Sunny Sweeney (2006-2008).
In 2011, Lomax released Texas Guitar Legend, an album of Rocky Hill’s unreleased 1977 recordings.
In 2017, Lomax III re-discovered tapes of his father singing old folk songs that had since faded out of public memory. He released a collection of sixteen of the solo, a cappella recordings as a CD titled FOLK.
Lomax works to distribute country and other music overseas through Roots Music Exporters in Nashville, a business he has been running since 1996. In 2010, Lomax was awarded the Jo Walker-Meador International Award, which “recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual in advocating and supporting country music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States.”
Journalism & booksEdit
Lomax started a long career of music writing while he was attending college in Austin. While in Houston, he wrote for Space City!, an underground newspaper. In Nashville, he met Harvey Magee, who had started Hank, the only music magazine in the city at the time. In the early 1970s, Lomax also wrote for the River City Review and Zoo World, monthly music magazines operating out of Memphis and Fort Lauderdale, respectively.
In 1980, Lomax, Thom King, and Richard Harbert started the Nashville Gazette, with Kathy Mattea as the magazine's receptionist. Lomax bankrolled the magazine, wrote as a music editor, and worked as the behind-the-scenes editor in chief. The Gazette ran early features on Rodney Crowell, Lacy Dalton, Gail Davies, and others. Lomax started his “Song City Serenades” column during the Nashville Gazette period; after the magazine folded a few months later, Lomax began a similar news column for The Aquarian Weekly.
Lomax has also authored several books. In 1986, his Nashville: Music City USA was published, providing an introduction to the city's musical history and current scene. The book contains over 200 photographs as well as “The Ultimate Country Music Chart,” with an extensive summary of achievements for over 100 country stars. Lomax co-authored The Country Music Book in 1988. In 2001, he wrote Red Desert Sky: The amazing adventures of the Chambers family, which recounted the career of Kasey Chambers and family.
John Lomax III is the son of John Lomax Jr. and Margaret Marable Lomax and grandson of John Lomax; both John Lomax Jr. and Sr. were pioneering folklorists famous for documenting, recording, and performing folk music traditions in the first half of the 20th century. Lomax III's uncle, Alan Lomax, and aunt, Bess Lomax Hawes, also had careers in music and folk traditions and have been honored with the Presidential Medal of Arts.
Lomax III is the father of John Nova and Amanda Margaret. John Nova Lomax is a senior editor for Texas Monthly; Amanda Lomax is a photographer and artist.
- Lomax III, John. “The Houston Metropolitan Research Center Interviews” Houston Oral History Project. Houston Public Library. July 19, 1979. Web. http://digital.houstonlibrary.net/oral-history/john-lomax_OH263.php
- "John Lomax III". Lomax 3. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- Tamara,, Saviano,. Without getting killed or caught : the life and music of Guy Clark (First ed.). College Station. ISBN 9781623494544. OCLC 942609297.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- 1957-, Hardy, Robert Earl, (2010). Deeper blue : the life and music of Townes Van Zandt. Denton: University Of North Texas Press. ISBN 157441285X. OCLC 519249222.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- Treat, Charlie (March 12, 2014). "John Lomax III: "Follow What You Hear Inside You"". American Music Project.
- "Steve Earle Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- "Steve Earle". GRAMMY.com. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- Dansby, Andrew (June 18, 2017). "Family tradition; Son releases John Lomax Jr.'s unearthed recordings of folk songs". Houston Chronicle.
- "John A. Lomax Jr.'s FOLK CD Celebrates Family's American Music Legacy". Lomax 3. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- "Ralph Murphy Receives CMA's Jo Walker-Meador International Award". Sounds Like Nashville CA. 2011-11-09. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- "THE COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION PRESENTS INTERNATIONAL AWARDS IN THE U.K. AND AUSTRALIA - CMA World - Country Music Association". CMA World - Country Music Association. 2018-03-19. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
- III., Lomax, John, (1985). Nashville : music city USA. New York: Abrams. ISBN 0810913453. OCLC 10484050.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
- III., Lomax, John, (2001). Red desert sky : the amazing adventures of the Chambers family. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1865084255. OCLC 58564933.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)