34 Years Ago: Clint Black Releases His Debut Album, ‘Killin’ Time’
Thirty-four years ago today (May 2, 1989), it's doubtful that Clint Black knew how significant a day it would be for his career. It was on that date that Black's debut album, Killin' Time, was released, kick-starting one of the most successful country music careers of his generation.
A Texas native, Black wrote or co-wrote all 10 songs on the project, which sold more than 3 million copies. The record spawned five No. 1 singles, including Black's debut single, "A Better Man," and the disc's title track. The third single released from the album, "Nobody's Home," stayed at the top of the charts for three weeks, while the fourth single, "Walkin' Away," held reign in the top spot for two weeks.
Black commemorated the 30th anniversary of the album with a tour, Still ... Killin' Time, that celebrated his debut. However, the artist is still somewhat in awe that other artists find him -- and the album -- so influential.
"Over the years, [performers] have told me," he tells The Boot. "And then my manager tells me about people he's talked to.
"I don't know if I just downplay that in my mind, but it's hard for me to really fathom that there are that many artists that feel the way I feel about early Merle Haggard records, you know, or Willie [Nelson] and Waylon [Jennings], the Red Headed Stranger album," he admits. "Things like that, that really had an impact on me. The thought that that is true is pretty striking to me. I love hearing about it, but it's hard to wrap my brain around it."
Black's impact on country music has been swift and lasting, but he isn't the only artist who debuted in 1989 and has left an indelible mark: That year was also when Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Travis Tritt first hit the airwaves. Dubbed the "Class of '89," these artists led the way for a new era of country music.
“I’m proud of my contribution," Black says of the distinction, "and I feel like I gave it my best."
Black followed up Killin' Time with his sophomore record, Put Yourself in My Shoes, which was released the following year. That album also sold more than 3 million copies, and it gave the hitmaker two more No. 1 singles and two more Top 10 songs.
Throughout his career, Black has sold more than 20 million albums all over the world and earned over a dozen No. 1 singles. The singer-songwriter's first six albums sold at least 1 million copies each, as did his 1995 Greatest Hits record. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1991, only two years after he made his debut on the famous stage, and says it's still one of his favorite places to perform.
“Walking out into the halls and getting your picture taken and people wanting autographs,” he says. “You see all the people that you know and you also see fans. It’s that crazy feeling you get — there’s excitement backstage at the Opry.”
Black -- who is married to actress Lisa Hartman Black -- left his longtime label, RCA Records, after his 1999 album, D'lectrified, was released. He started his own label, Equity Records, in 2003, which helped launch the careers of Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Little Big Town, among others. The label closed in 2008.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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