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STUBBLEFIELD, CHRISTOPHER B., SR.
STUBBLEFIELD, CHRISTOPHER B., SR. (1931–1995). Christopher B. Stubblefield, Sr., Lubbock restaurateur and music patron, was born in Navasota, Texas, on March 7, 1931. He was the son of Christopher Columbus and Mary Stubblefield. Stubblefield, known as "C.B.," "Stubb," or "Stubbs," loved music and people. He also loved to cook. "I want to feed the world" was one of his favorite lines. When he opened Stubb's Bar-B-Q in Lubbock in 1968, his special blend of barbecue, music, and charisma attracted local and major musicians, and his rickety barbecue shack became the center of Lubbock's live music scene.
Stubb's father was a Baptist preacher. After the family moved to Lubbock in the 1930s, Stubb spent his youth picking cotton and working in local hotels and restaurants. In 1947 he married Cleola Ruth Harris; the couple had three children. Stubb spent several years in the United States Army. As a gunner in the all-black Ninety-sixth Field Artillery during the Korean War (1950–53), he was wounded twice. His army career also foreshadowed his later life: he cooked, played music over the field radio to entertain his buddies in the trenches, and supervised food preparation for thousands of soldiers.
After being discharged, Stubb returned to Lubbock and bought a small, dilapidated building at 108 East Broadway. He hung signs reading "There Will Be No Bad Talk or Loud Talk in this Place" and loaded the corner jukebox with his favorite music, the blues. He made his own special sauce and, clad in overalls and a cowboy hat, tied a white apron around his 6½-foot frame and smoked chicken, ribs, beef brisket, and sausage in a hickory pit outside the back door.
When guitarist Jesse Taylor recognized the potential for a music venue in Stubb's quaint establishment, he talked Stubb into letting him build a stage. To the stage the young West Texas talent came: Taylor, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, and others. Many played their first gigs at Stubb's. Although Stubb couldn't pay them (they played for tips), he nurtured them with kindness and encouragement, along with heaping plates of barbecue and sides and sometimes a bed for the night. Stubb's Bar-B-Q became a musicians' hangout where Sunday night jam sessions became a tradition. The well-known to the unknown, performers of blues, rock, country or folk—all were welcome on Stubb's tiny stage, and all were touched by the generous barbecue chef who espoused love and happiness. Soon, pictures of Stubb and his friends in the music industry decorated the walls.
Legend has it that Stevie Ray Vaughan drew inspiration from Stubb's jukebox and later recorded many of the songs he heard there. A pool game in Stubb's back room, in which Tom T. Hall and Joe Ely used a white onion for a cue ball, stimulated Hall to write his song "The Great East Broadway Onion Championship of 1978." Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, George Thorogood, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris were among myriad others who performed at Stubb's. Stubb himself took the microphone occasionally to volunteer his rendition of "Summertime."
Stubb's Bar-B-Q drew a diverse crowd until the mid-1980s, when the restaurateur ran into financial problems, shut down his East Broadway location, and followed his West Texas friends to Austin. There he served barbecue at the blues club, Antone's before opening his own barbecue and live music place at 4001 Interstate 35 North in 1986. In 1989 Stubb closed the Austin location. Later, with business partners, he started to market his sauce and other products, which are now sold nationwide through Stubb's Legendary Kitchen in Austin.
On May 27, 1995, the day of his death, Stubb's partners bought the historic building at 801 Red River Street in Austin to continue his barbecue and live music tradition. Stubb died of congestive heart failure and related problems. In 1996 Stubb, who always described himself as "just a cook," became one of the first two inductees into Lubbock's Buddy Holly Terrace, which honors locals who have made significant contributions to the arts. When the Lubbock Arts Alliance decided to erect a life-size bronze statue of Stubb at his original East Broadway barbecue site, his musician friends played memorial jams to raise money for the project. The statue, sculpted by Terry Allen, was dedicated in 1999. The Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Cookbook, profiling the cook’s life and some of his legendary recipes, was published in 2007. Stubb was honored with induction into the Austin Music Memorial in 2009. In the 2010s Stubb’s Bar-B-Q restaurant continued to operate in Austin, and his line of sauces, marinades, and other barbecue products was sold in stores nationwide as well as internationally.
Austin American–Statesman, May 28, 1995; March 11, 12, 1996. Austin Chronicle, January 25, 1985. Stubb's (www.stubbsbbq.com/), accessed August 26, 2015. Stubblefield file, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Mary Beth Olson, "Stubblefield, Christopher B., Sr.," accessed April 23, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fstdj.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 26, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.