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Terry Clements played guitar for Gordon Lightfoot for 40 years. (David Hutchins)

Terry Clements, a Detroit native who played guitar for Gordon Lightfoot for 40 years, has died. He was 63.

Clements died on Sunday, 10 days after suffering a stroke. A posting on Lightfoot's official website acknowledged Clements as "an integral part of the signature Lightfoot sound."

He plays the haunting guitar solo on The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and is a dexterous guitar picker on Carefree Highway. The two created more than 15 albums together.

They met in 1970 while Clements was working on the soundtrack to an early Burt Reynolds movie. When Lightfoot's then-partner Red Shea wanted to get off the road, Lightfoot called Clements to ask him to join the band. He eventually accepted and the two played together since 1971.

"He was always so creative, yet never repetitive, his style inhabiting the music, never seeming to be added on as an afterthought, but instead always feeling like a part of the fabric of the song," said a tribute on Lightfoot's website.

Clements was born in Detroit and grew up in California, before joining the navy, where he hurt his hand. He always played with a flat pick and his ring finger.

In the 1960s he wrote and arranged songs for a group called Golden Sunflower, managed by Lou Adler, who also steered the careers of the Mamas & the Papas and Carole King.

He then got into working on film scores, where he met Lightfoot.

"Gord is personable and more down to earth than a lot of people I've been around, people who believe their own hype and have heads the size of watermelons," said Clements. "Gord doesn't have many airs about him. I guess to be in the business this long, you have some sense of decorum."

He said Lightfoot often left it to him to hit on the right sound for a song.

"If Gord has specific idea, he'll tell me. Otherwise, it's, 'Come up with something,'" Clements said.

With files from The Canadian Press