Handbook of Texas Music

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What is it about Texas music? Trying to define it is like reviewing a dictionary. There is way too much detail to try to pin it down. However, this much is clear: Texans have given American music its distinctive voice, and that's no brag, just fact.

Without Lubbock native Buddy Holly there could have been no Beatles. Without Ornette Coleman of Fort Worth bebop would still be the cutting edge of jazz. Texans such as Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, Doug Sahm, and ZZ Top permanently and irrevocably changed rock music. Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Lead Belly gave blues music its essence. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and more recently the Dixie Chicks have redefined modern country music. Van Cliburn helped tear down the Iron Curtain through his passionate interpretation of classical piano. Milton Brown and Bob Wills forged the genesis of western swing, while Tex Ritter and Gene Autry popularized Texas's long tradition of cowboy music in Hollywood and often sang songs written by yet another Texan, Cindy Walker. No less than six uniquely American forms of music—rock-and-roll, conjunto, jazz, blues, Tejano, and western swing—either were invented in or first flourished in the Lone Star State.

And yet, there is no singular Texas sound. Rather, there is a shared Texas musical spirit, one characterized by taking chances, trying new ideas, melding your neighbor's music with your own, all united by an attitude of "Why not?"

Americans of all kinds came to Texas and brought with them their music: polka from the Czechs, Poles, and Germans; conjunto from Northern Mexico; gospel, R&B, jazz, and blues from Africans; classical from throughout the world. Moreover, when these Texans got together, wholly new strains appeared soon thereafter. Electric blues, honky-tonk, Tejano, “Down South” hip-hop, and ragtime are all variations of American music that began in Texas through such innovation and melding.

Texas, with its confluence of Anglo, Latin, and African-American cultures, was an early and significant breeding ground for what is now referred to as “world music.” Experts outside of Texas often use our music as a means to understanding our culture. In 1991 the British Broadcasting Corporation devoted four hours of prime time Saturday-night programming exploring this very issue. Their film, Texas Saturday Night, used Texas music as the starting point through which to explain the Lone Star State. It was one of the highest-rated specials in the past three decades of BBC history.

The importance of music in defining Texas's culture comes to life nightly in the state’s more than 1,800 dance halls, nightclubs, and performing arts centers. Live music also serves as the anchor for more than 700 annual Texas events. To travel Texas with music as your guide is a year-round opportunity to experience firsthand this amazing cultural force. No matter what time of year or where you find yourself, live Texas music offers a vibrant and enjoyable experience through which to understand and enjoy Texas culture.

When on August 25, 1998, I first approached Doug Barnett, then the assistant director of the Texas State Historical Association, with the idea of publishing a Handbook of Texas Music, I brought a list I'd compiled by hand of musical topics I found going page-by-page through the then newly-published, six-volume New Handbook of Texas. I thought then, "Texas music is a handbook in itself!" Ron Tyler, then TSHA's executive director, agreed, and he green-lighted the book. Soon TSHA staffers Roy Barkley and George Ward signed on to make The Handbook of Texas Music a reality, as had Concordia University graduate student (and theremin lover) Cathy Brigham, the “Dean of Texas Jazz scholarship” Dave Oliphant, as well as the new director of the nascent Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, Gary Hartman. Like all reference books, it was incomplete the day it was published because time, like music, is inexorable. TSHA staffer Laurie E. Jasinski championed the revision project that culminated in the publication of The Handbook of Texas Music, Second Edition, in 2012, and, as project manager, she has continued to advance this music spin-off as an ongoing and dynamic work as the Handbook of Texas Music Online.

Although the Handbook of Texas Music deals with the past, its embrace of the present and the future is immutable. The expansion of the HTM to TSHA’s well-traveled and indispensable website represents a huge step forward for Texas music scholarship, with almost 900 entries along with hundreds of images and audio samples. Now anyone with a computer and Internet access anywhere in the world can learn about Texas music immediately. Whenever tragedy strikes and a legend passes, the HTM can quickly add a history of their life and contributions. To have a non-commercial, public source of scholarship is critical to the goal of disseminating verified, scholarly information in a field often plagued by well-intentioned though flawed writing. The standards of the Handbook of Texas Music Online serve to elevate the debate of how Texas music became such a dominate force in the world of music.

Casey Monahan
Former Director, Texas Music Office,
Governor's Office (1990 to 2015)


In keeping with the tradition of The Handbook of Texas, a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture, as well as its spin-off publication, the first edition of The Handbook of Texas Music, we have called on a large cross section of authors who volunteered their scholarship to write more than 410 new entries for this second edition. With this revised volume, it is our goal to offer completely updated articles and new and expanded coverage of the performing artists, musical groups, dance halls, businesses, festivals, organizations, and genres that have helped define the state’s musical legacy. Though the guidelines established by the original Handbook editors limit biographical entries only to deceased individuals, we have endeavored to include as much information as possible in related articles about the significant musical figures of the Lone Star State. Our writers include music historians, academic scholars, students, and music industry professionals, as well as devoted family members, local history buffs, and simply lovers of music. I thank them all for their conscientious efforts and for the privilege of working with them.

Many individuals and institutions have provided valuable assistance during this project. I would like to acknowledge the Texas State Historical Association staff that so diligently worked to produce the original Handbook of Texas Music (2003)—a very worthy resource upon which to build this second edition: Roy Barkley, Douglas E. Barnett, Kevin Dicken, Martin Kohout, Linda Newland, Ron Tyler, and George B. Ward. Mark Odintz, who also worked on the first edition, deserves my special thanks as my Managing Editor (2005–09) who gave me his full confidence and the title of Project Manager to pursue this revision.

I am very grateful to Kent Calder, Director of the Texas State Historical Association, as well as Chief Historian Randolph B. “Mike” Campbell for their ongoing support and guidance, without which this publication would not have been possible. I also want to recognize the help of TSHA staff members in other departments for their advice and assistance: Elizabeth Alvarez, Steve Cure, David Degnan, Cindy Haddock, Terri Killen, Steve Portch, and Ryan Schumacher, as well as former staffers Beth Bow and Robin Roe. Likewise, much appreciation to all of the past and present members of our Handbook Committee and its Chairman Steve Cook for their unwavering support of this project. The successful management of this work was facilitated by the technical backup furnished by the University of North Texas Libraries.

This publication has also come to fruition as the result of our valuable partnership with the Texas Music Office (Office of the Governor, Austin) and the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University-San Marcos. Many thanks to the staff at the Texas Music Office—Stephen L. Ray, Marc Fort, and intern Katelyn Orr; and to the staff at the Center for Texas Music History—Jennifer Cobb and Kathleen O’Keefe.

This project has greatly benefitted from the work of graduate students at the Department of History at Texas State University-San Marcos, and I extend my deepest appreciation to former Department Chairman Dr. Jesús F. de la Teja for his continuous encouragement. Thanks to Texas State history professor Dr. Vikki Bynum and her students for writing many much-needed music entries. A grateful nod as well to Dr. Ty Cashion and his students at Sam Houston State University for their article contributions.

The music advisors for this project generously gave their time, talents, and expertise to provide ample counsel to ensure a publication that is as comprehensive and accurate as possible. They responded to those late-night emails and graciously wrote last-minute entries to help bring this project to completion. I am indebted to all of them: Teresa Palomo Acosta, Gregg Andrews, Cathy Brigham, Kevin Coffey, Gene Fowler, Alan Govenar, Gary S. Hickinbotham, Deirdre Lannon, Bill C. Malone, Rodney F. Moag, Dave Oliphant, Curtis Peoples, Nolan Porterfield, John Rivard, Clayton T. Shorkey, John H. Slate, Joe W. Specht, Andy Wilkinson, and Roger Wood.

Heartfelt thanks go out to all the individuals, institutions, archives, and businesses that supplied vital information and guidance regarding the acquisition of the illustrations for this book. Their help has made possible the variety and quantity of photographs, sheet music, and artwork that grace this volume.

John Anderson, Texas State Library and Archives Division, Austin; Nancy Bless and Sarah Rucker, Texas Folklife, Austin; Jacqueline Bober, Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock; Denise Boudreaux, SilverStar Entertainment, Austin; Andy Bradley, SugarHill Recording Studios, Houston; David Dennard, Dragon Street Records, Inc., Los Angeles, California; Maggie Estes, Altre Media, Gene Gordon, Ron Jenkins, and Rodger Mallison, Van Cliburn Foundation, Fort Worth; Kent Finlay, Cheatham Street Warehouse, San Marcos, Texas; Marc Fort, Texas Music Office, Austin; Aryn Glazier, Brenda Gunn, Linda Newland, Margaret Schlankey, and John Wheat, and also Sarah Cleary and Kathryn Kenefick, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (cited BCAH in captions), University of Texas at Austin; Alan Govenar, Documentary Arts, Dallas; Arthur Gurwitz and Bob Dingley, Southern Music Company, San Antonio; Jennifer Jensen and Jan White, Riverwalk Jazz; Lauren Meyers, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston; Scott Newton and Austin City Limits, Austin; Jim Orr, Benson Ford Research Center, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan; Curtis Peoples and Andy Wilkinson, Crossroads of Music Archive, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, Lubbock; John Rivard, The Texas Polka News; Katie Salzmann, Steve Davis, Maggie DeBrecht, and Joel Minor, The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos; Tom Shelton, UTSA Libraries Special Collections, San Antonio; Clayton T. Shorkey and Megan Nicole Blinov, Texas Music Museum, Austin; Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, California; Warren Stricker, Research Center, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas; Larry Willoughby and the Huey Meaux Collection, Austin Community College, Austin.

I also extend my sincerest appreciation to the individuals, family members, and photographers whose talent, stewardship, and generosity enabled me to gather this wealth of images.

Aaron Allan, H. Allen Anderson, John Avant, Dorothy Balch, Jake Beasley, Donald Beckham, Wayne Beckham, Patricia Smith Boatright, Patrick Henry Bogan Jr., Ron Chapman, Dick Cole, Dixon E. Coulbourn, Jim Cullum, Ernie Durawa, Maco L. Faniel, Dan Flores, Gene Fowler, James Fraher, Martha Doty Freeman, Niles J. Fuller, Terry Hale, Conni Hancock, Gary S. Hickinbotham, Frank Hill, Stevie and Jeanie Hill, Bruce Jackson, Conrad Johnson Jr., Col. and Mrs. Frank Kiel, Jane Levine, Mark Lieberman, Cheryl Sparks Logan, Bill Malone, Lanny Medlin, George Nash, Jeff Newman, Al Olson, Dale Olson, Nolan Porterfield, Alton J. Rahe, Tomas Ramírez, Al Rendon, Keith Rogers, Duncan Schiedt, Paul Schlesinger, Mike Shannon, John H. Slate, Ann T. Smith, Kimber Smith, Odessa Stephens Sparks, Steve Sucher, Dennie Tarner, Robert H. Thonhoff, Dr. Charles R. Townsend, George B. Ward, Carol B. Wells, Jennifer Whitney, Burton Wilson, Minor Wilson, Ova Withee, Roger Wood, and Darlene Youts.

Special thanks to Don Olson, Department of Physics, Texas State University-San Marcos, for digital photo assistance. Very special thanks to Donna Coates, who served as Illustrations Editor for the first edition. The treasure of images and resources that she compiled for the original Handbook of Texas Music, along with her helpful advice, greatly aided the launch of my image search for the second edition.

I am very grateful to have the able talents of our production team. Layout designer David Timmons (David Timmons Design, Austin) did a fantastic job while displaying great patience with my various questions and comments. I appreciate the knowledge and careful organization of our index team—Linda Webster of Austin and Kay Banning of San Marcos. Thanks to my print production liaisons Mary Beth Bower and Coraly Hollister at Edwards Brothers, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan; my contacts Tina D. Chubbs and Dione J. Simmons of the US & Publisher Liaison Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and Mackenzie Pace of FineLine Technologies; and also thanks for the constructive advice from Gayla Christiansen, Marketing Manager at Texas A&M University Press, our distributor.

Our project partners at the Texas Music Office and the Center for Texas Music History have been exemplary. As Director of the Center for Texas Music History and professor in the Department of History at Texas State University, Dr. Gary Hartman has offered his support and excellent resources throughout every phase of this project. Under his leadership, his graduate students have written articles essential to this publication, and he has conducted meticulous review of their work and committed many hours of his time to provide assistance.

Casey Monahan, Director of the Texas Music Office, deserves special recognition for having the vision to conceive of the original book back in 1998. Ever since, he has given his full support and the resources of his office. I thank him for his vision, for being the shepherd and biggest champion of all aspects of music in the Lone Star State, and for the personal encouragement he has given me. Texans can be proud having such a steward representing our musical heritage and future in this state.

Most importantly, I want to personally thank my colleague Ann Smith, Data Management Editor and my TSHA compadre. With a careful and critical eye, she has reviewed and kept track of all the files and content for this book. I appreciate the endless checklists and long hours she devoted to a project that simply could not have been done without her.

Finally, I want to thank all the many musicians that have woven and continue to weave the musical tapestry of the state. These artists—not only the well-known but also countless unknown—who have dedicated their lives to honing their craft, continue to enhance the state’s musical voice—a truly universal language.

Laurie E. Jasinski
Editor and Project Manager
Texas State Historical Association

Music Advisors

Teresa Palomo Acosta Poet and Coauthor of Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History

Gregg Andrews (Doctor G & the Mudcats) Singer–songwriter and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History Texas State University

Cathy Brigham, Ph.D. Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Society for Ethnomusicology

Kevin Coffey Texas Music Historian

Gene Fowler Writer, Performer Author of Mavericks—A Gallery of Texas Characters, Crazy Water—The Story of Mineral Wells and Other Texas Health Resorts, and Border Radio

Alan Govenar Founder/President of Documentary Arts, Dallas Author of Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, Lightnin’ Hopkins: His Life and Blues, and other books

Gary Hartman, Ph.D. Director, Center for Texas Music History Texas State University

Gary S. Hickinbotham Engineer/Producer Fire Station Studios, Sound Recording Technology Program Texas State University

Deirdre Lannon, M.A. Department of History Texas State University

Bill C. Malone Professor of History (retired) Music Historian and Author of Country Music, U.S.A., (first published in 1968, multiple revisions)

Dr. Rodney F. Moag Musician/Deejay, Author of "A History of Early Bluegrass in Texas” Professor Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin

Casey Monahan Director, Texas Music Office (1990–2015) Office of the Governor

Dave Oliphant Jazz Historian

Curtis Peoples Crossroads of Music Archive, Texas Tech University http://www.crossroadsofmusic.ttu.edu/

Nolan Porterfield, Ph.D. Educator, Broadcaster Author of Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler

John Rivard Writer The Texas Polka News

Clayton T. Shorkey, Ph.D. President, Texas Music Museum

John H. Slate, C.A. City Archivist, Dallas Municipal Archives

Joe W. Specht Grady McWhiney Research Foundation

Andy Wilkinson Crossroads of Music Archive, Texas Tech University http://www.crossroadsofmusic.ttu.edu/

Roger Wood Author of Down In Houston: Bayou City Blues, Texas Zydeco, Coauthor of House of Hits

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