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TEXAS MUSIC & MUSICIANS

Music has been a part of Texas history from the very beginning. At San Jacinto, musicians accompanied Houston's army on its victorious advance (and they're still arguing over what tunes were played). Later, immigrants brought pianos overland to San Augustine and Galveston began importing them from New Orleans.

Immediately after towns built their three most important buildings (saloons, courthouses and jails) they built their opera houses. Hospitals and infrastructure could wait.

This section features tidbits of information, biographies, tributes and letters on Texas music and Texas musicians in a historical context. Musicians featured in Texas Escapes are either deceased or born prior to 1950. - Editor

Music & Musicians:

  • Fort Worth's Rock and Roll Roots by Mark A. Nobles
    Review by Dr. Kirk Bane 2-2-17
  • Dallas - Fair Park: Music Hall 9-25-16
  • Mike Daily, Steel Guitar, George Strait and The Ace in the Hole Band by Ken Rudine 11-8-16
  • Bobby Fuller by Clay Coppedge 9-2-16
  • "Ragtime Texas" Henry Thomas by Clay Coppedge 8-5-16
  • Dance Hall
  • Cherry Spring Dance Hall by Michael Barr 4-2-16
  • Jimmie Rodgers
  • Blue Yodeler's Paradise by Michael Barr 12-1-15
    Jimmie Rodgers
  • Elijah Cox
  • Elijah Cox - Fighting Indians on the Texas Frontier by Murray Montgomery 2-2-15
  • Moon Mullican by Clay Coppedge 3-20-16
  • Pearl, Texas – The Sound of Music by Michael Barr 11-3-15
  • "Brown-eyed Lee" by Mike Cox 10-29-15
  • The Big Bopper by Clay Coppedge 7-1-15
  • J. S. Torbett: He Sang his Way to Heaven by Michael Barr 6-15-15
  • Elvis Slept Here by Mike Cox 4-30-14
  • Elvis in Texas: The Undiscovered King, 1954-1958 Book Review by Dr. Kirk Bane 4-19-14
  • All Over the Map: True Heroes of Texas Music Book review by Dr. Kirk Bane 10-5-13
  • Banjo Man "Once Upon A Line" by d.knape 1-28-14
    In memory of Pete Seeger
  • The Best Singing Cowboy in the Movies by C. F. Eckhardt 1-1-14
  • Wild Willie's Picnic by Murray Montgomery
    Willie Nelson, for many years, has been regarded as an outlaw in his music and his lifestyle. No doubt, he attracts many fans — but he also stirs up feelings in some folks that are somewhat negative to say the least. Such was the case in Gonzales County in July of 1976. Because you see, Ol’ Willie was coming to town.
  • London, Texas Dance Hall by Kathern Hogan
    Oldest ongoing Texas dance hall - live bands and dances on Saturday Nights
  • Making music in Sacul by Bob Bowman
    On the fourth Saturday night each month, the Nacogdoches County community of Sacul hosts one of the best country music venues in East Texas--a collection of bands playing mostly bluegrass standards.
  • La Tipica by Wanda Orton
    An all-girl orchestra composed of talented and well-trained students from Baytown’s Mexican community -- played an important role in local musical entertainment from here to California.
  • Tex Ritter - A Texas Original by C. F. Eckhardt
    Woodward Maurice Ritter was born near Murvaul, Panola County, in the piney woods of deep East Texas in 1907. He grew up on a cotton farm near Beaumont and graduated as Valedictorian of his high-school class. He enrolled at what was then the only University of Texas...
  • Magnolia Gardensby Wanda Orton>
    Before he became world famous Elvis Presley hip-hopped all over the map of Texas, and he made many a return trip to Magnolia Gardens on the banks of San Jacinto River in eastern Harris County...
  • A song inspired by John Wayne by Bob Bowman
    Hamblen, the son of an itinerant preacher, wrote hundreds of songs during his lifetime, but his most enduring composition was the gospel classic inspired by, of all people, John Wayne.
  • Goodnight Texas by Ken Rudine
    "...A couple of years pass before Mick wrote down the melody and his lyrics. In 2007 he found my Goodnight sign photo in TE and sent me an email including his song telling me he has a plan to make a future music CD."
  • ‘Pistol Packin Mama’ right on target by Wanda Orton 12-23-11
  • Playing for dances brings back entertaining memories by Delbert Trew 9-13-11
    "Growing up in a musical family, then later playing professionally for 35 years..."
  • Davy Crockett's Fiddle by Mike Cox
    "Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, but Davy Crockett surely had no time for one last tune when Mexican soldiers made their final assault on the Alamo. While Crockett did not survive the battle, his fiddle apparently did..."
  • Pure Gospel by Bob Bowman
    Throughout East Texas are hundreds of gospel music venues where people gather on weekends to hear songs that you’ll hear only in churches...
  • A Historical Marker for Lightnin' by Bob Bowman
    The news outlets from Houston reported recently that a Texas Historical Marker has been dedicated to Lightnin' Hopkins, whose blues music became famous between 1946 and the 1970s...
  • Ivory Joe Hunter by Bob Bowman
    When historians in Southeast Texas unveiled a Texas State Historical Marker for Ivory Joe Hunter at a cemetery near Kirbyville, they stirred memories of one of America’s greatest musicians...
  • Eck Robertson by Clay Coppedge
    While others might think of Texas music as the domain of guitar players, the fiddle is the instrument that has most shaped what we identify as traditional Texas music... Of the pioneer types who helped establish a standard for Texas fiddle playing, Eck Robertson deserves the most credit...
  • Bringing back cowboy music by Bob Bowman
    Musicians today seldom play the music older folks remember best. But, thankfully, I was able to recommend at least one place where the old cowboy music is still played with enthusiasm. At the Camp Street Cafe and Store in Crockett, brothers Guy and Pipp Gillette perform traditional cowboy songs in a downtown building once owned by their grandfather...
  • A country legend by Bob Bowman
    Someone once asked country singing legend Ray Price to name his favorite singers. Price paused a minute and finally said, “I have too many to name, but Gene Watson would be right at the top.”...
  • Music in an Old Gym by Bob Bowman
    Lovelady's old school gymnasium - a popular country music venue in East Texas

  • Listening to the Tumbleweeds by Robert G. Cowser
    My purpose in contacting Willard was to get permission to hear his string band, the Tumbleweeds, perform at the nursing home. Once a month the band plays bluegrass and gospel music for the residents of the home. Willard is the lead guitarist; he is accompanied by two men on amplified guitars and another on an acoustic guitar. Each of these three musicians is in his late sixties...
  • The Legendary Stardust Cowboy by Clay Coppedge
    The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (real name Norman Carl Odam) from Lubbock...
  • Schroeder Hall
    The dance hall, which is still in business after 118 years has reached legendary status – being a venue where some of the biggest names in country music have performed.
  • Jim Reeves and Cheyenne by Bob Bowman
    As a one-time reporter, I covered the funerals of numerous East Texans, but the one I remember the most was that of Jim Reeves, the iconic country singer who grew up at Galloway in Panola County...
  • More Blues Brothers by Bob Bowman
    Some of the earliest blues pioneers lived and played in East Texas...
  • Pistol Packing Mamma by Bob Bowman
    One of the most popular songs in the U.S. during the mid-1940s was “Pistol Packing Mama,” which became Billboard Magazine’s most played jukebox favorite in 1944. But few know that the song came from East Texas and was written and performed by an Cherokee County musician Al Dexter.
  • Dad had a ball with newfangled electric by Delbert Trew
    My father had a Western dance band called The Perryton Playboys all through the Depression years most of which was before the arrival of electrical power.
  • Mance Lipscomb by Clay Coppedge
    Songster and guitarist Mance Lipscomb spent most of his 80 years as a tenant farmer around Navasota, in Grimes County before becoming an overnight sensation when he was 65...
  • Music Hath Charms by Dorothy Hamm
    Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak, so said William Congreve several centuries ago...
  • The first Elvis impersonator< by Bob Bowman
    Former radio personality Norman Johnson of Nacogdoches holds a unique place in East Texas history: He was the first known Elvis impersonator.
  • Kathy Dell: A Cowboy's Sweetheart; the life of a famous unknown by Mel Brown
    "Dell’s true importance to the state’s music history is found in the pioneering spirit and unconventional accomplishments of her career... in two male dominated professions, first as a rodeo star and then as a country musician and band leader."
  • The Killer and Me by Clay Coppedge
    Jerry Lee Lewis once offered me a drink of whiskey but I turned him down because I was sixteen years old and conducting my first ever interview with anyone but myself. It happened in 1969 at the Bigger ‘N Dallas nightclub...
  • "Always Late" by Archie P. McDonald
    "Just on the southside of the crossings sat a beer joint named "Neva's," and there, my father said, was where Lefty Frizzell sang about a girl who was "always late" with her kisses."
  • Gospel music by Bob Bowman
    Few things have left as much impact on East Texas history as gospel music...
  • Competing with Elvis in the Classroom by Robert Cowser
    Elvis Presley and a band called the Blue Notes performed on the stage of the Humble Oil Company’s recreation building in Hawkins one evening in January, 1955...
  • Yoko on the Llanos by Clay Coppedge
    Buddy Holly didn't live long enough to bring his lasting influence on Lubbock home with him. His death in a plane crash in February of 1959 cut his life and career way too short, and left people in Lubbock to wonder what Holly would have done in Lubbock had he lived...
  • Good Night Irene by Archie P. McDonald
    Since Shreveport and Caddo Parish were once members of the old East Texas Chamber of Commerce, it is appropriate for the East Texas Historical Association to consider Huddie Leadbetter, better known as Leadbelly, as part of our past—especially since at least one of his prison sentences was served in this region...
  • Jim Reeves
    From "The Salesmen" by George Lester
  • Comeback of a cotton gin by Bob Bowman
    At Point, a small town of some 700 souls in northern Rains county, a sturdy old gin has found a new life as an entertainment venue that draws crowds from all over East Texas. Performers like Mark Chestnut, Pee Wee Walker, and Gary Busey perform regularly in the gin...
  • Webb Pierce
    From "The Utopian Life" by George Lester
  • The Four States Area by George Lester
    "... I was told that in the old days they would have musicians broadcasting in one studio while another group was preparing to go on the air in another. In some rare cases all three studios would be occupied at one time. Now the studios stood empty and unused. It was kind of spooky to look out the control room soundproof glass and see that haunting sight reminding us of the glory days gone by..."
  • Hoyt Axton: Artist Unclassified by Dorothy Hamm
    Hoyt earned millions of dollars as a songwriter, singer, artist and actor but the, everybody-knows-your-name, type of fame forever eluded him. But maybe that did not matter to him as long as his music could be heard. It was, and still is, in rock, folk, pop and country history. He could never be pinned down to one genre; he made his mark wherever he happened to land. Record companies were unsure how to categorize his music. One catalogue listed his music as "Unclassified." Hoyt's friends thought it was a totally appropriate label for the music and the man.
  • Discovering the Advantages of Radio by George Lester
    It was at my second job in radio that I began to discover some of the great perks of being in that business. There was a country show every Saturday night in Shreveport, about 45 miles north of our location. It was called The Louisiana Hayride and produced by radio station KWKH. Many of country music's biggest stars made their debut on that show. A few come to mind such as Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Jim Ed Brown...
  • The Most Interesting Shoe by Dorothty Hamm
    The most interesting shoe I ever owned was a gauze and plaster cast with a walking heel. This was not just any cast. It was a cast that would be ogled by a pop superstar and autographed by an Oscar winning actor ...
  • Kopperl, Bosque County, Texas by Steven Fromholz
    The information in this article is the background history upon which Steven Fromholz's song, Texas Trilogy is based.
  • Steven Fromholz Bio
  • A Classic Walk on The Wild Side by Clay Coppedge
    One of the biggest selling country music songs of all time, "The Wild Side of Life," has a Milam County connection. It also has a Carter Family connection, a Hank Thompson connection and led directly to the first million selling song recorded by a female artist...
  • One of the Best Interviews I Never Did by Dorothy Hamm
    "...I only had a half dozen interviews to my credit when the editor called and gave me an assignment to interview a famous country/rockabilly artist who was performing at a dinner theater in Dallas. The editor said he would make the necessary arrangements to get me in the door and back stage to do the interview before the performance. He also gave me some special instructions..."
  • Old Sam Houston Song by Mike Cox
    "The song, reprinted in 1928 in a long-defunct Texas magazine called Bunker's Monthly, lies on the pages of the few surviving copies of that publication, long forgotten. It does not show up in a Web search or appear in the basic Houston biographies."
  • Right lubrication greases squeakiest of wheels by Delbert Trew
    Many classic Old West tales are similar in plot but different in location. The following tale has been told many times with the same plot but featuring different ranches, different characters and different tunes. The original story is probably true, but where it happened is anybody's guess. Our version here supposedly happened on the famed XIT Ranch...
  • Bob Wills: The Greatest Fiddle-Player of Them All by C. F. Eckhardt
    "...He was a shirt-tail kid from Turkey, where they put both city limits signs on the same post. He had a fiddle and a Model T, and he pushed that Tin Lizzie to anywhere anybody would pay $3 or $4 to hear him fiddle all night and sometimes well into the dawn while they danced to old songs. Sixty years after that beginning he was a legend-Bob Wills, the fiddle king, the man who started the sound called Western Swing. He led the most famous dance band in the Southwest ..."
  • Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Newbury: A Texas Connection by Dorothy Hamm
    "...We knew nothing about Kristofferson then. We would come to learn that his life was far more interesting than any song he could ever write. Perhaps that's why he had to write them. His story is well known, born in Brownsville, Texas..."
  • Westphalia Waltz by Clay Coppedge
    Even in Texas, more people probably know more about the song 'Westphalia Waltz' than they know about the town of Westphalia, the song's namesake.
  • Hank Williams and Patsy Cline Still Mean A Lot by Dorothy Hamm
    Although tragedies ten years apart ended the young lives of Hank Williams in 1953 at age 29 and Patsy Cline in 1963 at age 30, they continue today as two of country music's best loved and most enduring stars...
  • Freddy Fender by Ken Rudine
    "I can understand why some people may not know much about Freddy Fender, after all I count four other names he has performed under and his career has started and stopped several times. But there is no doubt Freddy is a true Texas grown talent that has left, and continues to leave, his mark on Texas music history."
  • John McEuen, Acoustically Speaking by Dorothy Hamm
    "Few people who have seen John in concert, playing banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, etc., need an explanation as to why he is called a string wizard. His mastery of acoustic string instruments seems almost magical at times."
  • Willie by Dorothy Hamm
    "Native Texan Willie Nelson is warm, witty, talented, intelligent, caring, loyal, and a country music icon of gigantic proportions. He is also a humanitarian. He’s celebrated more than 70 birthdays, yet the songwriter, actor, musician and singer shows no signs of slowing his pace as he continues to record, tour, play golf and lend his name and talents to causes he believes in such as a recent benefit concert with Arlo Guthrie in New Orleans to help musicians displaced by hurricane Katrina..."
  • The Boll Weevil by Archie P. McDonald
    Tex Ritter sang this lament decades ago:
    “Oh, the boll weevil is a little black bug, come from Mexico they say, come all the way to Texas, just looking for a place to stay, just looking for a home, just looking for a home.” And the weevil, actually a beetle, found it, much to the chagrin of East Texas cotton growers.
  • How Boogie Woogie Began by Bob Bowman
    In 1939, African American historian E. Simms Campbell wrote, “Boogie Woogie piano playing originated in the lumber and turpentine camps of Texas and in the sporting houses of that state.”
  • The Quebe Sisters by Bob Bowman
    "If Bob Wills were around today, the chances are good that he would be delighted with three teenage sisters from Burleson. Listening to the Quebe Sisters play the western swing music pioneered by Wills in the 1930s and l940s, you realize they are special musicians who love what they’re doing..."
  • The Light Crust Doughboys are on the air! by Archie P. McDonald
    "Truett Kinsey’s voice came out of Philcos and Zeniths and other radios all over East Texas, and eventually much of the South, each day at noon to announce the beginning of a performance of the most popular fiddle band ever assembled..."
  • Daddy's Favorite Song by Sandy Williams Driver
    Excerpted from "Haunted Encounters: Departed Family and Friends"
    "... The late 1940s brought the haunting voice over the airways of the man my daddy always proclaimed to be "the best country music singer of all time" -- Hank Williams..."
  • Pickin’ at Sacul by Bob Bowman
    "...On the fourth Saturday night of each month, amateur pickers and singers travel to Sacul -- a Nacogdoches County town that almost became a ghost town -- in search of appreciative audiences..."
  • People Told Him It Would Not Work by Dorothy Hamm
    "... In 1975, when Johnnie High, a handsome, super-personable entertainer who had been picking and singing since his early teens, dreamed of establishing a wholesome, quality, country music show using local “unproven” talent, his friends told him there was no way it would succeed..."
  • Boxcar Willie by Dorothy Hamm
    "... Lecil Travis Martin, who would someday be known around the world as Boxcar Willie, was born in 1931 in Sterrett, Texas, a wide place in the railroad tracks between Dallas and Waxahachie..."
  • Joe Tex by Clay Coppedge
    "Dancer Alvin Ailey has always been considered the most famous person to come from Rogers, but fans of that sweet soul music of the '60s and '70s might beg to differ once they find out that singer Joe Tex drew his first breath and sang his first words in Rogers...."
  • Casablanca’s East Texan by Bob Bowman
    Dooley Wilson, the piano player who sang As Time Goes By in Casablanca
  • Pass the Biscuits, Pappy by Bob Bowman
    His Texas homilies, radio broadcasts, hillbilly music and affinity for rural Texas propelled him into the governor’s office for two terms.
  • The Eerie Demise of Johnny Horton by Clay Coppedge
    Despite Johnny Horton's wild-at-heart looks and voice, he was a man haunted for years by ominous premonitions of his own death. He often promised those close to him he would contact them from beyond the grave.
  • The Old Fiddler by Bob Bowman
    Way back in the l930s, Henderson County storekeeper John Hatton leaped from obscurity into statewide prominence when Athens started its annual Old Fiddlers Reunion.
  • Ol' Paint's ride started in Bartlett by Clay Coppedge
    Identifying who actually penned the classic trail drive song "Goodbye Old Paint" is about as easy as trying to figure out which horse on which cattle drive inspired the song. One thing we can say with certainty is that the song's journey from trail drive ditty to enduring American classic passed through here.
  • Our Celebrities by Bob Bowman
  • Blind Lemon by Bob Bowman
  • The Big Bopper by Archie P. McDonald
  • A Statue for Lightnin' by Bob Bowman
  • East Texas Song Writer Ted Daffan by Bob Bowman
  • "The Light Crust Doughboys are on the air!" by Archie P. McDonald
  • Creating a Gospel Classic by Bob Bowman
    Songwriter Stuart Hamblem
  • Crockett' s Cafe and Music Hall by Bob Bowman
  • Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo, and Blair by Archie P. McDonald
  • The Pearl Blue Grass Jam

  • Lyric

  • The Crash At Crush by Brian Burns - Brian Burns Music (BMI)

  • Musicians Born in Texas - Hometowns

  • Al Dexter - Jacksonville
  • Alger Alexander - Leona, south of Centerville
  • Aubrey (Moon) Mullican - Got his start in Rock Island
  • The Big Bopper from Beaumont
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson - Freestone County settlement of Coutchman
  • Bob Wills - Kosse
  • Bobby Fuller - Goose Creek
  • Boxcar Willie - Sterrett
  • Budd Holly - Lubbock
  • Ernest Tubb - Crisp
  • Dooley Wilson - Tyler
  • Eddie Dean - Posey
  • Fred Lowery - Palestine
  • Gene Autry - Tioga
  • Gene Watson - Palestine / Paris
  • George Jones - Saratoga
  • Henry Qualls - Elmo, near Kaufman
  • Hudie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter - Marshall
  • Jack Teagarden - Vernon
  • Janis Joplin - Port Arthur
  • Jim Reeves - Murvaul, near Carthage
  • Jimmy Rogers - Honorary Texan
  • Johnny "Guitar" Watson - Houston
  • Johnny Horton - Tyler.
  • Jules Bledsoe - Waco
  • The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Lubbock
  • The Light Crust Doughboys
  • Lightnin' Hopkins -
  • Mance Lipscomb - Navasota
  • Melvin (Lil’ Son) Jackson - Barry, west of Corsicana
  • The Quebe Sisters - Burleson
  • "Ragtime Texas" Henry Thomas - Upshur County
  • Ray Price - Uphsur County
  • Roy Orbison - Wink
  • Scott Joplin - Texarkana
  • Stuart Hamblen - Kellyville near Jefferson
  • Ted Daffan - Lufkin
  • Tex Ritter - Carthage
  • Vernon Dalhart (Marion G. Slaughter) - Jefferson
  • Willie Nelson - Abbott
  • Two Poems for George Jones
    "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones." - Waylon Jennings
  • The Possum by David Knape 4-27-13
  • A Picture of Us Without George by Luke Warm 4-27-13

  • General
  • Beaumont to Caldwell With a Boogie Woogie Beat by Frances Giles
    Mama's name was Estelle and that woman loved music. She liked Big Band, Country and Western, especially Western Swing, “church music” and gospel, rhythm and blues, almost any genre, and she heavily favored anything with a lively beat...
  • Roses or Coffee by Peary Perry
    There was a story going around a few weeks ago had to do with some famous violin player in Washington, D.C. Anyway, this accomplished musician (Joshua Bell) set up shop in a subway and played some of his most difficult pieces for a couple of hours. I checked this story out on one of the urban legend websites and it came back as being true...
  • Old Tunes Bring Back Memories by Murray Montgomery
    It’s funny how different things can remind us of the past and bring back old memories...
  • Ain't Seen This Kind Of Cat Before Poem by David Knape
    Elvis

  • Vintage Images
    The Bellville Band
    Bridge Valley Bend
    Colorado County - Bands
    Columbus
    "The Baby Eagles" Rhythm Band c. 1941
    Eagle Lake High School Band

    El Paso
    Ellinger Brass Band
    Falfurrias High School Marching Band 1953
    Falfurrias Church Choir 1957
    Gorman Band
    Kerrick School Rhythm Band
    The "Sky Rockets" performing in Leakey, 1930s
    Novohrad - Lone Star Brass Band
    Tyler - Mexican Fourth Cavalry Band & Tyler Kid Band
    Waldeck Band

    Cartoons by Roger T. Moore
    Selena 4-12-17
    "Dang Me"
    Waylon Jennings
    Buddy Holly
    Big Bopper

    Texas Music Forum
    Ernest Tubb the singer was born in Crisp back in 1914 and lived there till family moved to Kemp some years later where his folks later separated. - November 30, 2010

    I just found your great web site and it has much to explore! I would like to add a short bit of info. My father was Charles James Davis, known as "Blackie Davis", in Bell County , TX. ( Belton, TX). In the 1940's, he had a band called, " Blackie Davis and the Rhythm Rascals" and they played in Belton on East Central Ave. As Belton was "wet" in those days. Now the date may be before the 1940's? He was born May 13, 1890 and was 57yrs. of age when I was born. He died in 1946, in Belton. Thanks, for your time. - Anna Pearl Thomas, Belton, TX, June 08, 2004

    Dorothy Hamm Music Column
    Archived Music Column
    "Words and Music"
    by Dorothy Hamm


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