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Blues guitarist Pierce remembered as great musician, collaborator

Clarence Pierce: 1943-2012

Peter Mongillo

Clarence Pierce, a longtime Austin blues guitarist who led the house band at the Eastside Lounge and played with the Texas Eastside Kings, among other groups, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Pierce was born in New Braunfels in 1943 and moved to Austin in 1969 after stints in Fort Worth and San Antonio.

"He was a great musician; he had a great heart," said Dialtone Records owner Eddie Stout, who released several albums featuring Pierce.

Pierce was known as much for his playing as his ability to work with other musicians. "He knew his chords; he knew his changes; he could talk music. Some of these guys who are older can speak notes," Stout said. "He could tell a horn player what to do in their own language."

Among the projects Pierce participated in with Dialtone were Texas Trumpets and Texas Eastside Kings, which included George Underwood, Ephraim Owens, Donald "Duck" Jennings, Willie Sampson and James Kuykendall.

Organ player Nick Connolly, who worked with Pierce on some of the Dialtone recordings, remembers the guitarist as having diverse musical taste, pointing to his recording of Bobby Helms' country hit "Fraulein" on the album "Texas Eastside Kings."

"Of all the songs in the world he could've picked to play, he picked a German dance hall song." Connolly said. "He figured out a hybrid, bluesy way to play that song, and that really spoke heavily of who he was. He was just a fun guy to be with; he laughed a lot. He was very unusual."

Services are pending with King-Tears Mortuary.

Contact Peter Mongillo at 445-3696