Robert Earl Keen announces his retirement from touring and public performances

Legendary Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen has shocked fans and music industry insiders with the announcement of his retirement from performing in public on Friday, January 14.

Keen wrote a heartfelt message to his fans on his website, sharing the news.

“It is with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you that as of September 4, 2022, I will no longer be touring or performing publicly. I plan to continue writing songs, interviewing a wide variety of celebrities and contributors for our Americana podcast,” he wrote. “I also take this as an opportunity to further support the music community and the ever-growing number of young talents on our horizon.”

Keen, 66, assured fans that the reason for his decision was not due to poor health or a crisis he was experiencing.

“I am not sick and I am not experiencing any existential crisis. I think making a decision and leaving the road when I still love her is the way I want to leave her,” he wrote. “I think making a decision and leaving the road when I still love her is how I want to leave her.

Additionally, the Texas native shared that his final performance will be on September 4, 2022, with a fan appreciation party on Labor Day, September 5. “We’ll be touring extensively through September 4, 2022 and encourage you to get our attention, if you’re interested in leading a tour your way,” he shared.

Born in Houston in 1956, Keen graduated in 1978 from Texas A&M, where he played folk and bluegrass music with friends, including roommate Lyle Lovett. He then moved to Austin, Texas and released his debut album, not a little dancer, in 1984. He later recorded 18 albums throughout his career for independent and major record labels.

Keen’s songs have been recorded by other artists such as Joe Ely, The Highwaymen, George Strait, Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith. In 2012 he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame. His last album, Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions, came out in 2015 with a live album, Dinner Live Meeting, to be continued in 2016.

You can check out Keen’s tour dates for 2022 HERE.

Read Robert Earl Keen’s message in full below:

You’ve heard people say “Time flies”. It’s a cliche. What’s fun about cliches and what makes them ubiquitous is that they ring true. Jackson Browne has a line in a song that sums up an entire life in the blink of an eye. It’s hard for me to absorb the concept but, I understand it as a feeling because I feel it more and more with each passing day. BUT, it’s easier to say, “time flies”. We all know what that means.

There is no way to inventory the fantastic amount of amazing people who have touched my life. My family, friends, band members, fans, colleagues, teachers, advisors, confidants and peers are only just beginning to tell the story. I feel connected to each of them. If I can picture them in a “blink of an eye” like a shot, I’m connected. And I believe it’s the people who come in and out of your life that make life worth living or, in unfortunate cases, a living hell.

Luckily, I have been blessed with a lifetime of bright, talented, colorful, electric, magical people throughout my life. This chorus of joy, this parade of passion, this rush of creativity, this colony of kindness and generosity are at the forefront of my thoughts TODAY. It is with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you that as of September 4, 2022, I will no longer be touring or performing in public. I plan to continue writing songs, interviewing a wide variety of celebrities and contributors for our Americana podcast. I also see this as an opportunity to further support the music community and the ever-growing number of young talents on our horizon.

I am a strong believer in clarity and truth. As much as I love what I do, it’s important that I do it well or not at all. I am not sick or in an existential crisis. I think making a decision and leaving the road while I still love her is how I want to leave her. I witnessed the alternative first hand and vowed to come out feeling all the love for the music and play the same way I came in – with passion and enthusiasm.

We will be touring extensively through September 4, 2022 and encourage you to get our attention, should you wish to arrange a tour of your own choosing. Our final two or three shows will be at the Flores Country Store in Helotes, TX, and we’ll be hosting a fan appreciation party on September 5th, Labor Day. Details of this event will follow soon. All booking inquiries will be handled by Lynn Cingari and Seth Malasky of Wasserman Music. All publicity inquiries are directed to Tamara Saviano. All other requests will be handled by Keen Productions. Details of this information will be available on my website.

Thank you for all the wonderful shows over the years and, although it may not be apparent here, I promise, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends.

Robert Earl Keen

Photo by: Nick Doll

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