The Nashville Fire Department responded to a welfare check and found the 39-year-old singer on Sunday evening in his apartment. On Tuesday, the Metro Nashville Police Department said that his death is likely related to a drug overdose.
MNPD’s Don Aaron told the Associated Press the authorities performed a wellness check on Earle at his apartment around 5 p.m. following a call from a concerned friend.
Aaron said Earle was found dead. The results from an autopsy and toxicology report are still pending but officials confirmed there seemed to be no signs of foul play.
The singer-songwriter’s family confirmed the news in a statement posted on Instagram and Facebook Sunday.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” the announcement read.
“So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys,” the family continued. “You will be missed dearly Justin.”
Earle was born in Nashville and played in local bands the Distributors and the Swindlers. He released his first EP, titled “Yuma,” in 2007. He went on to release several albums, including 2019’s “The Saint of Lost Causes.”
The musician also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. In 2010, Charleston City Paper reported that Earle began using drugs at 13 and had survived five heroin overdoses by the age of 21.
Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle performs on the Mustang Stage during day 1 of 2017 Stagecoach California’s Country Music Festival.
((Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Stagecoach))
“I definitely write better when I’m not using drugs or drinking,” he explained. “When I’m using, it’s hard to keep me out of a bar or hard to get me off the dope spot. When I do go off, I go off the deep end. I was completely clean for six years. When I use drugs, I don’t do anything else. I am a drug addict.”
Earle’s father, singer Steve Earle, paid tribute to his son on social media.
“Justin Townes Earle 1982-2020,” the 65-year-old wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the two laughing together.
The star is survived by his wife, Jenn Marie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Etta St. James.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco and the Associated Press contributed to this report.