Clifford Antone (1949-2006)
The legendary Austin club owner, who died May 23, helped launch many a Texas musician, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Charlie Sexton. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons remembers the larger-than-life music impresario.
One evening, at the club’s third location, on Guadalupe, Buddy Guy had just finished a set, and I happened to be in Clifford’s office. Buddy Guy came in to collect his paycheck. Clifford was in his famous dark suit, white shirt with the collar open, and he was counting out a stack of $100 bills. Buddy Guy said, “Clifford, I gotta go. We gotta make another show.” Clifford smiled, gestured to a chair, and said, “Sit down. We’ll get to it in a moment.” And he kept thumbing through this stack of hundreds. And Buddy Guy kinda glanced at me, and he glanced around the room, and once again he prompted Clifford to get on with it: “Let me have my money!” And Clifford just kept thumbing through this stack of cash. Buddy Guy started kinda chuckling. He leaned over and gave me the elbow and said, “Looka there, Clifford thinks he’s a gangster.” Clifford looks up and he says, “Yeah, I guess that’s part of my image. Here’s your money. It was a great show. You’re welcome back anytime.”
AS TOLD TO JOHN MORTHLAND
For more Clifford Antone stories, go to texasmonthly.com/cliffordantone.