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Clifford Jamal Antone

CLIFFORD JAMAL ANTONE, known to his lifelong friends as C.J., passed away May 23, 2006 at his home in Austin, Texas. Antone was noted as founder of the internationally known nightclub Antone's, best known as Austin's Home of the Blues. Cause of death is pending. Clifford was born October 27, 1949 at St. Mary's Hospital in Port Arthur, Texas, middle child of Jamal and Georgette Ashy Antone, who owned Amuny's Imported Foods & Liquors and Pauline's Gift Shop in Port Arthur, and Antone's Package Store in Port Neches. Antone graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur in 1968. He relocated in the late Sixties to Austin, where he attended the University of Texas. His immediate living family includes sisters Susan Antone and Janelle Antone Raad, and niece Georgette Raad, 13, and nephew Jamal Raad, 6. He leaves behind his uncle Edward Ashy, aunts Evelyn and Mary Kay Ashy, all of Port Arthur, numerous cousins, and a big, beautiful family of friends. Clifford was preceded in death by his parents, grandmothers Pauline Ashy and Jamille Antone, grandfather Elias Antone, his loving aunt Onnie Hyslop and Aunt Gloria Farha, uncles K.E. Antone, J.E. Antone, and Fred Ashy, and cousins Craig Ashy and Will Farha. Clifford Antone opened his original club in Austin July 15, 1975 at 6th and Brazos with zydeco king Clifton Chenier. Bringing in the blues and soul legends of the day such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Fats Domino, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Taylor, Walter "Shakey" Horton, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, Albert King, James Cotton, Calvin Jones, Willie "Big Eye" Smith, Bobby Blue Bland, and B.B. King made Antone's the premier blues club in Texas. He furthered the career of regional R&B artists such as Albert Collins, Barbara Lynn, Clifton Chenier, Miss Lavelle White, and Lazy Lester. Yet what truly made Antone's Austin's Home of the Blues was its cultivation of local Austin talent such as Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Jimmie Vaughan, Angela Strehli, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Derek O'Brien, Lou Ann Barton, Paul Ray & the Cobras, Denny Freeman, Marcia Ball, Doug Sahm, Doyle Bramhall II, Sue Foley, Guy Forsyth, Bob Schneider, and Charlie Sexton. His many contributions to and enduring love for music were captured in a 2004 documentary, "Antone's Home of the Blues." In recent years, Clifford Antone broadened his base of interests to work with numerous social and educational organizations. He created the Help Clifford Help Kids fundraiser for American Youthworks in 2000 and was among the first to respond to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with his all-star benefit, Neighbors in Need. He loved teaching music at the University of Texas in Austin and at Texas State University in San Marcos. Antone was in the process of writing a book about the history of the blues and rock & roll with Sarah Rucker. Teaching and writing were among the work he most loved, along with being at his nightclub. Visitation for Antone was conducted in Austin at Cook-Walden Funeral Home and a private mass was held on Saturday May 28. Pallbearers included Mikal Amuny, Ellis Antone, Allen "Sugarbear" Black, Dick DeGuerin, John Paul DeJoria, Gerald Farha, George Ellis Gaston, Royce Hebert, Rob Lippincott, Jamal Raad, and Lucky Tomlin. Honorary Pallbearers were J.J.Abraham, Greg Abraham, Ronnie Amuny, Mark Ashy, Peter Ashy, Jack Catalina, Joe Ely, Pete Ferraro, Charles Ferraro, Curly Ferris, Richard Ferris, Freddy Fletcher, Cater Joseph, Abraham "Chick" Kazen, Nick Kralj, Mike Lawrence, Sidney Morning, Willie Nelson, Bruce Perkins, Don Pitts, Darrell Royal, Allan "Bud" Shivers, Gene Tumb, James White, Eddie Wilson, Ron Wilson, and Danny Young Port Arthur visitation will be held 12:30-1:45pm Tuesday, May 30 at Grammier-Oberle Funeral Home, 4841 39th Street with burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park, 2pm Tuesday. At the family's request, donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Clifford Antone Memorial Fund, c/o Prosperity Bank in Austin, or to American Youthworks in Austin. A public memorial and celebration of Clifford's life will be held June 3rd, 6pm, at Austin's Palmer Event Center. Clifford Antone truly loved his family, the blues, his home in Austin, and the UT Longhorns with all of his heart. He never forgot his wonderful upbringing and home in Port Arthur, and deeply loved the music and soul of the bayou. Peace and love. Hook 'em, Horns!

Published in Houston Chronicle on May 28, 2006
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