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Steven Fromholz, groundbreaking Austin songwriter, dies

Willie's picnics through the years
Tom Lankes AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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Steven Fromholz, one of Austin's foremost songwriters during the 1970s outlaw country era, died Sunday from an accident with a firearm, his family reported. He was 68.

Longtime friend Craig Hillis said Sunday night that Fromholz died at the Flying B Ranch in Schleicher County, about 40 miles south of San Angelo. A brief statement from the family says: "The accident involved the unexpected discharge of his shotgun as he prepared for an afternoon hunt to address a feral hog infestation that had been menacing the goat population in Schleicher County. Steven died being a rancher, an avocation he heartily embraced with his sweetheart, Susan Buchholz."

Born in Temple, Fromholz rose to prominence with a 1976 solo album for ABC Records titled "A Rumor in My Own Time." One of its tracks, "I'd Have to Be Crazy," subsequently was recorded by Willie Nelson, who issued the 1978 Fromholz album "Jus' Playin' Along" on his Lone Star label.

Fromholz later released several albums on his own label, Felicity, named after one of his two daughters. His other daughter, Darcie, also lives in Austin.

Fromholz's career got a boost in 1998 when Lyle Lovett recorded all three songs of Fromholz's "Texas Trilogy" on his two-disc set "Step Inside This House," a tribute to Texas songwriters. The Trilogy initially appeared on Fromholz's first record, "Frummox," a 1969 duo project with Dan McCrimmon. It also inspired a book that Hillis and Bruce Jordan co-authored, "Texas Trilogy: Life in a Small Texas Town" (2002, University of Texas Press).

Fromholz suffered a stroke about 10 years ago but had largely recovered over the years, Hillis said. In 2007, Fromholz was selected Poet Laureate of Texas.

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