He’s been a producer to Elvis Presley and U2, an Arthur Murray dance instructor, best friend to Johnny Cash, Sam Phillips’ right-hand man, a U.S. Marine, a slasher-film producer, and he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride and Townes Van Zandt. This off-the-wall feature about legendary Nashville record producer/performer/artist Cowboy Jack Clement tells the story of his amazing career via home movies longtime friends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, John Prine, Bono and many more. Riding the trail between Monty Python and Blazing Saddles, this film inspires with lessons of creativity, mortality, and the risk and glory of a self-made life.
In this most unorthodox documentary about a most unorthodox man, ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement comes alive as a maverick entrepreneur and madcap jester of the country music industry. Jack Clement began working at Sun Records for Sam Phillips, who made music history when he made a record of a white guy who sounded like a black guy-Elvis Presley. Soon Clement did something similar, producing 20 gold records for Charley Pride, a black guy who sounded white. He went on to produce and write songs for some of the biggest – Parton to George Jones. And became friends with many of them. But Clement not only had the friendships, he documented them on film and video- for decades. The footage of a relaxed Cash, caught in private moments with one of his best friends, is worth the price of admission (as is the footage of Bono doing his Brando impersonation). Over those years, Clement made millions-and lost them just as easily, usually by investing in some harebrained scheme. And again, Clement documented the whole damn thing. Directors Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon combine thirty years of Clement’s home movies with new footage and offbeat asides for one of the liveliest documentaries about one of the liveliest talents ever to be captured on screen. — Tribeca Film Festival synopsis