Austin author and journalist Jan Reid died of heart failure Saturday. He was 75.
Abilene-born and Wichita Falls-reared, Reid was part of a band of journalists linked informally by Texas Monthly magazine since the 1970s, and he also wrote novels, histories and other books. That talented group has included over the years Stephen Harrigan, Lawrence Wright, Larry L. King, W.K. "Kip" Stratton, John Spong, Michael Hall and especially Reid’s role model and close friend, Gary Cartwright.
Reid, who wrote in a lyrical style, joined Texas Monthly in 1973, and his name has remained on the masthead ever since.
"Even though a number of us came in with a lot of ego and ambition, you could look around the room, and we were all 26 and 27, and we didn’t know what we were doing," he told The Dallas Morning News in a 2017 interview.
Reid delved into crime, politics, sports and Texas history. His byline appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire and GQ.
His breakthrough book, a deep look at the Austin music scene of the 1970s, "The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock," has never gone out of print. He also wrote a biography of Gov. Ann Richards, "Let the People In."
Recently, Reid announced that he had "a new novel, my fourth, coming from TCU Press next spring. It’s called ‘The Song Leader’ and among other things tells the story of a long friendship of a ’70s rock singer and a famous heavyweight boxer and movie actor in the ‘Blaxploitation’ period."
In April 1998, Reid was shot during a holdup in Mexico City, where he had gone to watch a prize fight involving his friend Jesús Chávez. His long recovery from a near-fatal wound was watched carefully by his Texas fans and friends. Reid, who worked out with boxers at local gyms, wrote about his experience in "The Bullet Meant for Me."
His late wife, Dorothy Browne, a Democratic Party activist formerly married to novelist Billy Lee Brammer, was a key to his recovery. Browne died of cancer last December.
Reid was a member of an informal group of storytellers called Knuckleheads who met regularly for lunch at Threadgill’s.
"We've been drinking to the memory of Jan Reid this weekend," Jesse Sublett wrote Sunday on Facebook. "Good friend, amazing writer and even more amazing storyteller, friend, mentor, inspiration. It’s nice to visit Facebook and see so many people posting and referring to Jan as ‘good friend’ and it’s a reminder than he touched so many people. I’ll miss our Knucklehead lunches at Threadgill’s over the years, lots of years, when we all shared progress reports on our writing, stuff about music, lots and lots of stuff about food, health, books, peccadillos, pain, allergies, football."
"I’m devastated by the loss of Jan Reid, a dear friend of my family and me," musician Mike Dubose wrote on Facebook. "Jan was an incredible journalist and writer, a beautiful soul and one of the toughest and gentlest people whom I have ever had the honor to know."