Reid, 75, died September 19 of heart failure

Reid had just finished a novel, The Song Leader, expected to be published next year by TCU Press.

Jan Reid, beloved member of the Texas literary community, suffered a heart attack earlier in the month and died Saturday, September 19, 2020, of heart failure. He was seventy-five.


Reid was working as sports editor of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung when his byline first appeared in a new Texas magazine in 1973. Perhaps best known for his Texas Monthly pieces, Reid also wrote for Esquire, GQ, and the New York Times Magazine.


Reid’s first book was The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock (1974), which documented how Willie Nelson’s move from Nashville to Austin transformed the music industry and the town. Reid went on to wrote more than a dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards and The Bullet Meant for Me, his account of being shot and almost killed during an armed robbery in Mexico City in 1998.


According to longtime friend of Reid W. K. “Kip” Stratton, Reid had just finished a boxing novel, The Song Leader, when he suffered a major heart attack in early September. It’s expected to be published next year by TCU Press.


Reid won the Lon Tinkle Award for lifetime career achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters in 2104. He was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in February of 2019, where Lone Star Lit publisher Kristine Hall and managing editor Michelle Newby Lancaster were honored to share a table with Reid.


Born in Abilene, Reid grew up in Wichita Falls. After six months with the Marine Reserve in 1964, Reid returned to what is now Midwestern State University, where James Hoggard encouraged him to write. In 1970, Reid enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin for graduate school, where his love affair with Texas writers solidified. Reid went on to become a Dobie Paisano Fellow.


Reid was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Browne, in 2019. He is survived by his stepdaughter, Lila Vance-Wilson. A memorial service will take place at some point in the future.


Read our 2017 interview with Jan Reid here: