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Among the most significant contributors to the nation’s musical foundation

State Spotlight


Became a state on..... December 29, 1845

Southern Genres..... Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz, R&B, Southern Rock.

The richly diverse ethnic heritage of the Lone Star State has brought to the Southwest a remarkable array of rhythms, instruments, and musical styles that have blended here in unique ways and, in turn, have helped shape the music of the nation and the world. The first musical sounds heard across the pre-Texas landscape may have been birdsong, followed by the chants of nomadic tribes. In historic times, the ritual songs of the first Native Americans predate the Spanish colonial hymns brought to the New World by the Catholic Church.

The Lone Star State

"Six Flags over Texas"

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the south central part of the country, Texas shares borders with the other US states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the US, while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh largest in the US. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the US, and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texan state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, "Tejas", which means 'friends' in the Caddo language.

The term "six flags over Texas" refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the United States as the 28th state. The state's annexation set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the US in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

"Texas Our Texas"

Adoption of the State Song

"Texas, Our Texas" is the official state song of Texas. It was written in 1924 by William J. Marsh, who was born in Liverpool, England, and emigrated to Texas as a young man, and Gladys Yoakum Wright, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and selected as the state song by a concurrent resolution of the Texas Legislature in 1929 following a statewide competition. Older songs, such as "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and "Dixie", were also considered but ultimately it was decided a new song should be composed. At times, there have been movements to replace "Texas, Our Texas" with the better known "The Eyes of Texas."

The first word of the third line was originally largest, but when Alaska became the largest state when it was admitted to the United States in 1958, the word was replaced with boldest.

This song was sung in group by elementary students in Texas at the beginning of their school classes during the 1950s. At that time "largest" started the third line of the first verse. As of the 1980s, this song was still sung before classes in some schools, along with the pledge to the American and Texas flags, but with "boldest" instead of "largest." William J. Marsh (1880-1971) was born in Woolton, Liverpool England. He moved to Texas in 1904 and became a naturalized citizen in 1917. He was professor of organ, composition and theory at Texas Christian University. He was also Choir Director. As a composer, he published over 100 works, including the Christmas song, "O, Night Divine", Texas' first opera, "The Flower Fair at Peking", and the Texas state song, "Texas, Our Texas".

Texas Music: Its Roots, Its Evolution

In the words of Jay Brakefield

Among the glories of Texas is its music, which is as diverse and vital as the state and its people. Woven into the musical fabric are country, blues, jazz, spirituals, gospel, rock 'n' roll, Tex-Mex, Cajun and the music of Czechs, Germans and other European immigrants.

These forms have not only coexisted, they have evolved and cross-pollinated as Texas has changed, becoming steadily more urban. Texas is the birthplace of Western swing, which incorporates elements of country, blues, pop, big-band jazz and Latin rhythms, and of conjunto, which combines traditional Mexican music with polkas and other European forms. Texas has nurtured zydeco, the music of French-speaking blacks, which has increasingly incorporated elements of rhythm and blues.

In Texas, you can catch a performance by Steve Jordan, who has been called the Jimi Hendrix of the button accordion. Or you can walk into a honky-tonk where a country singer in a cowboy hat is borrowing a verse from Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson about a woman who "may be in Ethiopia somewhere."

To many people, Texas music means country, so that seems an appropriate place to begin.

Country Music

The white Americans who began to settle in Texas in the 1820s came primarily from elsewhere in the South, bringing with them the religious and secular music they had heard at home. Generally the music they listened to for entertainment and dancing was played on guitars, banjos and fiddles. Even here, the music was hardly a pure Anglo-Saxon strain. The banjo is apparently of African origin, and the fiddle has long had an identification with black as well as white musicians and was widely known as the devil's instrument – apparently because when a fiddle was playing, it was hard to keep still.

Distinctive regional characteristics developed in this transplanted music. Texas fiddlers generally use a relatively slow tempo and long, single-note bow strokes, permitting more variations on the melody. They tend to complement the rhythmic background provided by a guitar and possibly other instruments. Guitarists, too, developed their own style, using swinging rhythms and a greater variety of chords than the traditional I-IV-V progression that is standard in so much folk and dance music, black and white. These instrumental styles laid the groundwork for the Western swing and honky-tonk music of the 20th century.

These early Texas white musicians played primarily for dancing, often in people's homes. On a weekend night, furniture would be cleared out of several rooms for dancing to the music of local players. These were seldom professional musicians, but were usually fellow farmers who played as a sideline for a modest sum. Many also participated in fiddling contests, fierce competitions in which they honed their skills and enhanced their reputations. Often dancers moved to the music of just fiddle and guitar.

But sometimes musicians played in larger ensembles called string bands, which included instruments such as mandolin and banjo. In addition, particularly after the Civil War, Texans were exposed to musical entertainment through traveling tent and medicine shows, where they heard comedians (often in blackface) and popular songs of the day. And they heard the music of African-Americans, who sometimes performed for their masters on the plantation and sang to pass the time as they labored, both during and after slavery. Though most worship was segregated, many whites also had some exposure to African-American worship services, with their joyous interaction of preacher and congregation.

Whites and blacks alike throughout the South also had access to itinerant singing masters who taught a shape-note system, which uses symbols rather than standard musical notation, to indicate the pitch of the notes. At least one version, called "sacred harp" singing, is still heard in parts of rural Texas. And the Lone Star State, with its ranches and its cattle drives, had the tradition of cowboy music and dress, which certainly influenced the image of Texas country music and perhaps its sound as well.

Thus by the time the commercial music industry was born in the 1920s, the British folk songs that had formed the basis of early rural, white American music had already been cross-fertilized with a wide variety of music, black and white.

First country-music recording

Apparently, the first country musicians to record were fiddlers Alexander "Eck" Robertson of Amarillo and Henry Gilliland of Altus, Okla. Gilliland and Robertson, a legendary prize-winning performer, traveled to Virginia in June 1922 to play at a Civil War veterans' reunion. Then, probably on impulse, they went to New York and presented themselves at the Victor recording company – Robertson in a cowboy outfit, Gilliland in a Confederate uniform. They were granted an audition and allowed to record. The standout of the session was Robertson's recording of the dance tune "Sallie Gooden."

Robertson did not record again until 1930, but in 1923, the two men performed two songs on Fort Worth radio station WBAP: "Sallie Gooden" and another song Robertson had recorded, "Arkansas Traveler." In doing so, as Bill Malone points out in Country Music U.S.A.," Robertson "may have been the first country performer to 'plug' his recordings on a radio broadcast." With another 1923 broadcast, WBAP apparently began the tradition of "barn dance" radio shows that helped to popularize country music in cities throughout the country where Southerners migrated in search of work.

According to Malone, the birth of the country music industry can be traced to the June 1923 recording of another rural musician, Fiddlin' John Carson of north Georgia. Polk Brockman, manager of the phonograph section of an Atlanta department store, persuaded Ralph Peer of Okeh Records to record Carson. When Peer was skeptical, Brockman offered to buy 500 copies of the unpressed recording, which included "The Little Old Cabin in the Lane" and "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Going to Crow."

To Peer's surprise, the 500 copies sold quickly, though the record was, in Malone's words, "uncatalogued, unadvertised, unlabeled and for circulation solely in the Atlanta area." Okeh pressed more copies, added the record to the catalog and promoted it. That November, the label brought Carson to New York to record 12 more numbers and signed him to an exclusive contract.

First Country-Music Star

The first true country music star was Jimmie Rodgers, "the singing brakeman." Rodgers was from Mississippi, but lived the last several years of his life in Texas, first in Kerrville, then in San Antonio. His eclectic style, which included elements of jazz, blues and pop as well as his famous "blue yodel," would have a profound influence on later country musicians.

Bob Wills & Western Swing

Perhaps the most distinctive strain to emerge from Texas, Western swing, fused the music of the house dances with a number of other styles. Bob Wills, often called the father of Western swing, began as a boy playing for dances in the Panhandle. His father, John Wills, was a fiddler who played for dances and in contests. In fact, his chief rival was none other than "Eck" Robertson. Bob Wills apparently got his famous "Ah-hah" holler from his father, for a disgusted Robertson once remarked after losing a contest to the older Wills, "He didn't outfiddle me. That damned old man Wills outhollered me," according to Charles R. Townsend's biography of Wills, San Antonio Rose.

Bob Wills also loved black music and once rode a horse 50 miles to hear the legendary "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith. In 1929, Wills moved to Fort Worth, where he performed in blackface with a medicine show and teamed up with guitarist Herman Arnspiger and singer Milton Brown in a group first called the Wills Fiddle Band, then the Aladdin Laddies and the Light Crust Doughboys.

The Doughboys were the creature of W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, a future Texas governor and U.S. senator who was then president and general manager of Burrus Mill in Fort Worth. He used the band to advertise his flour – and not, contrary to many reports, as a vehicle for his political career.

The Doughboys became very popular via their daily radio show on KFJZ in Fort Worth. But after a dispute with O'Daniel, Wills left to form his own band, the Texas Playboys, which, ironically, moved its base of operations to Tulsa, Okla.

Brown, too, left and formed his own band, Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, which remained in Fort Worth and performed regularly at the Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion, a dance hall on White Settlement Road. Brown died young after a 1936 car accident on Fort Worth's Jacksboro Highway. Some scholars believe his role in the formation of Western swing has been slighted, and that the group he put together was really the first Western swing band. It included steel guitarist Bob Dunn, who may have been the first to amplify the instrument and who played in a jazzy style far removed from the "weeping steel" of later tears-in-your-beer country music. Dunn, it is said, made the steel guitar sound like a trombone.

Some of Wills' early recordings feature black-dialect humor straight from his medicine-show days. But his music became increasingly sophisticated, and in his pre-World War II heyday in Tulsa, he fronted a large group that included both fiddles and horns and that could play anything from country dance tunes to big-band jazz. Wills never learned to play the "hot" fiddle style he loved, but hired musicians who could. He was a terrific performer, though, keeping up a constant line of patter ("There's a man after my own heart – with a razor") and inspiring his musicians to innovative solos.

The long career of another Texan is illustrative of the diversity of Texas music. Adolph Hofner, who became a bandleader in the 1930s, actively performed until the '90s. Growing up in the South Texas Czech community of Praha, he spoke Czech before he spoke English, and played a wide-ranging repertoire that included Wills-style Western swing with Czech lyrics, Cajun waltzes and such Tex-Mex staples as "El Rancho Grande." Hofner died in June 2000.

After World War II, tastes changed, and Wills and other band leaders could no longer afford to carry large orchestras. Wills remained active until a 1973 stroke ended his career, but his later music was more country, more fiddle-oriented, and he spent much of his time performing in Las Vegas.

Honky-Tonk & Outlaw Country Music

Even before the war, a new wind was blowing through country music, a rougher, amplified sound played by small combos for dancing in urban honky-tonks. This sound was exemplified by the 1941 hit "Walking the Floor Over You" by Ernest Tubb, who had begun his career as a Jimmie Rodgers imitator.

Other Texas musicians had great success with this style, as well, including Corsicana born Lefty Frizzell and Ray Price, who later changed his approach to the pop crooning favored by singers such as Tennessee's Eddy Arnold and fellow Texan Jim Reeves.

Honky-tonk, whose greatest star was Alabama-born Hank Williams, became virtually synonymous with country music through the mid-1950s, when it was knocked from its perch by another form of music that, ironically, it had helped to create: rock 'n' roll. The Nashville-based country music industry responded in the 1960s with music that crossed over into the mainstream and seemed to many like nothing more than country-flavored pop.

Texans Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings were key players in the 1970s "outlaw country" movement, a fusion of country and rock that rebelled against Nashville's blandness. Nelson moved from Nashville to Austin and helped spawn that city's "progressive country" sound.

Today, as fads come and go, fans continue to support performers such as Nelson, Jennings and East Texan George Jones, whose way with a sad song has gained him a reputation as the greatest country singer around.

In addition, there's a neo-honky-tonk movement that includes such performers as Austin's Junior Brown, inventor of the "guit-steel," a combination of standard and steel guitars. Groups such as Asleep At The Wheel and Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys keep traditional Western swing alive. Other bands fuse honky-tonk with punk rock in big-city clubs, proving that country can go anywhere.

Blues, Jazz & Gospel

Some of the Southerners who settled in Texas brought their slaves with them. The singing of African-Americans as they worked long, hot hours on farms and plantations became a part of the larger culture. Black musicians sometimes played for whites, who listened or danced. And the minstrel show, consisting of musical and comedy numbers, became very popular after the Civil War. Both white and black minstrel troupes performed in blackface.

Roots of the blues

Black music in Texas, as elsewhere, retained some African characteristics, such as the use of polyrhythms, call-and-response patterns of singing and playing and the use of bent or slurred tones known as "blue notes." The field hollers and work songs of slavery were African also in that they were often sung by people working together and reflected a collective effort and consciousness.

But after Emancipation, a new individual consciousness was reflected in the music called the blues, often played by a lone man accompanying himself on a guitar.

No one really knows where or when the blues began, but it was widespread through the South and much of Texas by the turn of the 20th century. Generally a performer would sing a line, repeat it, then close the stanza with a rhyming line that often contained an ironic twist. Though this 12-bar form became the most common, eight- and 16-bar blues also existed.

Recordings of older musicians from the 1920s provide evidence of what early blues and other late-19th-century forms were like. Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas, born in Gladewater about 1875, recorded when he was in his 50s, singing and playing the guitar and a wind instrument called the quills, or panpipes. One of his songs, "Fishing Blues," has been recorded by, among others, the 1960s rock band the Lovin' Spoonful.

Another such songster – one whose repertoire ranged from blues to ballads, dance tunes and religious songs – was Mance Lipscomb. The son of a country fiddler, he was born near Navasota in 1895. After working most of his life as a sharecropper, he was discovered by the folk-music crowd in the 1960s and enjoyed considerable popularity in the last years of his life.

Leadbelly & Blind Lemon

Also a significant figure was Huddie Ledbetter. "Leadbelly," as he was popularly known, was born in 1889 on the Louisiana side of Caddo Lake, which lies on the border of northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana. Leadbelly spent much of his life in Texas, in and out of prison.

Through the efforts of Texas folklorists John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly left a rich legacy of recordings that, like Lipscomb's, cover a wide range of styles. He is best known for popularizing "Good Night, Irene," which, with somewhat sanitized lyrics, has become a pop standard.

After moving to the Dallas area around 1912, Leadbelly found his primary instrument, the 12-string guitar, and learned much about the blues from Blind Lemon Jefferson, who later became the first country blues recording star. Born in the farm community of Couchman 70 miles south of Dallas in 1893, the young Jefferson walked the roads around his home, playing for money on the streets and in the cafes and joints of the surrounding towns. He spent time in Mexia, where the local strip of black businesses was known as the Beat, playing both alone and in a string band with other musicians.

Bob Wills, born in 1905, spent the first eight years of his life in nearby Kosse, and it's possible that he heard the young Jefferson and other musicians such as Marlin's Blind Willie Johnson, who played slide guitar and sang in a powerful, gravelly voice in a style called "gospel blues" or "holy blues." Figures such as Johnson demonstrate that church music and the blues were more closely linked than the latter's designation as "the devil's music" would indicate.

Lemon Jefferson married a Mexia woman in 1927, but he also spent a lot of time in Dallas, playing up and down the Central railroad track in the Deep Ellum section that was the heart of that city's black community life.

Jefferson was certainly not the only such musician in the area. Blind Willie Johnson was in Dallas about the same time and made his first records there. And there were strolling string bands that played a wide repertoire ranging from blues to pop tunes. One such group, the Dallas String Band, included bass player Marco Washington, stepfather of future bluesman Aaron "T-Bone" Walker.

Jefferson attracted the attention of a Paramount record scout, thanks to the efforts of a local record-store and shine-stand owner named R.T. Ashford. From 1926 until 1929, Jefferson made regular trips to Chicago to record and achieved considerably popularity in the "race" market – records marketed exclusively to African-Americans. In addition to blues, he recorded a few spirituals under the name Deacon L.J. Bates.


Blind Lemon Jefferson died in Chicago in December 1929. Apparently he froze to death, though the circumstances of his death have never been fully explained. But his brief career exerted considerable influence on many performers who followed. One of his songs, "Matchbox Blues," was recorded years later by both rockabilly star Carl Perkins and the Beatles. He was buried in Wortham, and a marker erected years later pays tribute to him and his influence.

Jefferson's success opened the door to a flood of country blues recordings by a number of artists, including Texan "Little Hat" Jones, Alger "Texas" Alexander and J.T. "Funny Papa" Smith. Blind Lemon's dexterous guitar style featured single-string runs and unconventional phrasing – what one musician called "suspended time."

This style was a major influence on T-Bone Walker and other blues players who, starting in the mid-'30s, played the new electric guitar. Amplification allowed the instrument, once consigned to the rhythm section of a large band, to become a solo instrument. Walker's style of playing lead guitar in a call-and-response pattern with an orchestra came to define a whole school of post-World War II blues, though he didn't really achieve star status until he moved to the West Coast in the 1940s.

An earthier strain of blues was exemplified by Sam "Lightnin' " Hopkins of Centerville, who was a child when he met Jefferson at a church picnic. Hopkins spent most of his life in Houston, playing an amplified version of the down-home East Texas music he had grown up with.

Piano bluesmen

Texas had a strong tradition of piano blues, too, hard-hitting music with strong elements of ragtime, the music popularized by composers such as Texarkana Born Scott Joplin. Texas piano blues developed in the rough lumber and turpentine camps of East Texas and in the honky-tonks of Dallas' Deep Ellum and Houston's Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards, in places with names like Mud Alley and The Vamp.

Robert Shaw, a member of the "Santa Fe" group of pianists named for the railroad, survived into old age running a barbecue business and grocery store in Austin, and, like Mance Lipscomb, had a late second career playing for white fans.

Another link to the past was Dallas pianist and singer "Whistlin' " Alex Moore, who continued to perform up to the time of his death in 1989, at age 89.

Cajun & Country Influences

Louisiana-born musicians, such as Clarence Garlow and Clifton Chenier, performed extensively in Texas and developed modern zydeco, a lively fusion of Cajun and rhythm and blues. Some scholars trace this development to Frenchtown, a section of Houston's black Fifth Ward.

An urban strain of blues and gospel was recorded beginning in the '50s at nightclub owner Don Robey's Peacock studios in Houston. Robey recorded such artists as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, who plays both guitar and fiddle and mixes blues with country music; smooth-voiced Memphis blues balladeer Bobby "Blue" Bland; and Alabama-born Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, whose recording of "Hound Dog" inspired Elvis Presley.

Texas Jazz

In jazz, Texas exemplified the swinging, blues-based Southwestern style, very different from the stately polyphony of early New Orleans jazz bands. In the 1920s, black bands such as the Clouds of Joy in Dallas and the Troy Floyd Orchestra in San Antonio performed in white hotels, sweetening their sound somewhat for these audiences.

A rougher music was played for black audiences in places such as Dallas' Tip Top dance hall, which San Antonio band leader Don Albert called the rattiest place he'd ever seen.

It was apparently in the Tip Top in 1925 that Dallas clarinetist and alto sax player Henry "Buster" Smith was hired by the Blue Devils, a top Oklahoma City-based "territory" band, one that played a regular circuit through the South and Midwest. Smith, though little known to the general public, went on to become a significant figure. Along with other Texas musicians, he became a part of the exciting Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930s. He helped to create Count Basie's theme song, "One O'Clock Jump," and was a strong influence on Charlie Parker, generally regarded as the father of be-bop, the harmonically advanced music that stood jazz on its ear in the 1940s and '50s.

Other major jazz figures from Texas included trombonist Jack Teagarden, born in Vernon, and a whole school of saxophonists – called the "Texas Tenors" because of their full, distinctive sound – that included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. The Houston-born Jacquet received the fifth annual Jazz at Lincoln Center Award for Artistic Excellence on Nov. 13, 2000, joining past winners Lionel Hampton, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter and John Lewis.

Texas-born musicians played a major role in the development of the electric guitar. In addition to T-Bone Walker, these innovators included Eddie Durham, who played with Buster Smith in the Blue Devils, and Charlie Christian, of Benny Goodman's band.

Perhaps the most idiosyncratic and controversial jazz musician to come out of Texas is alto sax player Ornette Coleman, who began in Fort Worth rhythm-and-blues bands and went on to invent a radically new music called free jazz, with his own theory of collective improvisation, called "harmolodics." Such developments indicate the power and complexity beneath the apparently simple music with roots in slavery.


Until the mid-19th century, Mexican Texans, or Tejanos, seem to have danced primarily to music imported from Spain or Mexico, played on violins and various wind instruments, with rhythm provided by guitars and sometimes by a drum. Other European forms gained popularity after being played at the court of Maximilian, who ruled Mexico during the 1860s with the backing of the French army.

The most significant innovation, however, was the introduction of the diatonic button accordion by German and Czech immigrants. Tejano musicians were reported playing this instrument by the 1870s.

Tejanos also listened to the music of guitarreros, singing guitarists who performed corridos, songs that told stories and carried news, often in cantinas and at social gatherings.

Lydia Mendoza & Family

Mexican-Americans in Texas were entertained, too, by performers such as the Mendoza family of San Antonio, who toured with variedades – variety shows staged in tents and theaters. The family sang and performed comedy skits.

One of the Mendoza daughters, Lydia, became the first Tejano recording star when she was recorded in 1934 in a San Antonio hotel room playing her 12-string guitar and singing "Mal Hombre," whose lyrics she had learned from a bubble-gum wrapper. She became very popular not only in Texas, but throughout Latin America, during her long career, singing folk-based songs that often speak passionately of romantic longings.

Evolution of Tejano Music

For dancing, two basic styles developed: conjunto (literally "ensemble") music and the music of the orquestas, or orchestras, outgrowths of the earlier string and wind groups.

Two major figures in the creation of conjunto, Narciso Martínez and Pedro Ayala, were born in northern Mexico in 1911. Many regard Martínez, a native of the border town of Reynosa, as the father of this style and of the very similar norteño style of northern Mexico. He is often credited with being first to combine the instruments that came to define the sound: the button accordion and the bajo sexto, a type of 12-string guitar.

Bruno "El Azote" Villarreal is thought to have made the first conjunto records, in 1928. Narciso Martínez first recorded in 1935 or 1936, with bajo player Santiago Almeida, for the Blue Bird Label at San Antonio's Blue Bonnet Hotel.

Martínez, who lived near San Benito in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, became known as "El Huracan de Valle" – the Hurricane of the Valley. He was never able to support himself with his music. In the 1970s, he worked at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, feeding the animals. In 1983, he received the National Heritage Award, the nation's highest honor for folk musicians.

The initial accordian bajo lineup was complemented by the addition of the tololoche, or upright bass. This development is variously credited to Pedro Ayala and to San Antonio accordionist, songwriter and singer Santiago Jiménez Sr., known as "El Flaco" – the skinny one.

In the 1940s, a new group of conjunto stars, including Valerio Longoria and Tony de la Rosa, further changed the music. Drums were added, and electric bass replaced the upright acoustic instrument.

Vocals were added to a music that had been almost exclusively instrumental. The lyrics, like those of country and blues, deal with the heartaches and trials of everyday life and are often imbued with lo ranchero – a longing for a simpler, rural life.

The foundation of conjunto is the polka, but bands play a variety of styles, including the waltz, mazurka and huapango – a fast, rhythmic dance named for the town near Veracruz where it originated.

Further innovations were made in the 1950s by another seminal group, El Conjunto Bernal, led by accordionist Paulino Bernal and his brother bajo sexto player Eloy Bernal. The group employed two- and three-part harmonies. Paulino Bernal used his instrument's full range, playing chromatic models with four or five rows of buttons.

The button accordion has a distinctive sound, quite different from that of the more expensive piano accordion. Most models have from one to three rows of buttons. Like the air holes of a harmonica, each button plays two notes, one pushed, one pulled. In addition, two reeds sound each note, about a quarter-tone apart, providing a slight dissonance and the instrument's characteristically sweet sound. And playing two adjacent buttons together almost always produces what guitarist Ry Cooder calls "a pleasant third interval." The first such accordions were relatively primitive models with one row of buttons, but these evolved into a more versatile three-row model.

Conjunto became the music of the working people, those who labored on farms or migrated to the cities, where they often had to support themselves with low-paying jobs. The dance music of the more affluent Mexican-Texans was played by the orquestas. These often played the same songs as the conjuntos, but in more complex arrangements for a full band that included wind instruments seldom employed in conjunto. In The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: History of a Working-Class Music," Manuel Peña writes, "In the hands of such noted leaders as Beto Villa and Balde González, orquesta came of age among tejanos beginning in the 1940s. Furthermore, aspiring to be more 'sophisticated,' it turned to both the instrumentation and the repertory of American dance bands of the Glenn Miller-Tommy Dorsey type ..."

In the 1950s, the conjunto and orquesta forms began a convergence that would result in a new music known as Tejano. The very popular orquesta leader Beto Villa added accordion on some recordings and took Narciso Martínez along on short tours.

A younger bandleader, Isidro López of Bishop, Texas, made the breakthrough. As writer Ramiro Burr says, "He had recorded with conjuntos, and a mariachi, creating what he called 'Texachi.' Then he incorporated two accordions into his orchestra, which was unheard of at that time. In later recordings, like 'Mala Cara' and 'Macho Rock 'n' Roll,' López fused the rhythms of early rock into his Tex-Mex blend."

That fusion of urban and rural forms didn't come to be known as Tejano until the early 1980s. Before that, it went under a variety of names, including Mexican music, música de orquesta, música alegre, la Onda Chicana, Tex-Mex funk and brown soul.

Popular performers in the 1960s included Alfonso Ramos, Roy Montelongo, Freddie Martínez and Little Joe (Hernández) and the Latinaires. The Sunglows of San Antonio had a string of English-language hits such as "Talk to Me" and "Rags to Riches," and lead singer Sunny Ozuna appeared on American Bandstand. The group then had a series of Spanish-language hits.

A new wave of performers emerged in the 1980s: La Sombra, Mazz, Pio Treviño & Magic, Patsy Torres and La Mafia. These groups employed rock-show theatrics such as flashy costumes and sophisticated light and sound systems. Electronic synthesizers were added to the horn-driven hot dance mix.

The economic downturn of the mid-1980s may have delayed the Tejano boom, but it exploded full force in the early 1990s. Tejano FM stations from Texas to California enjoyed high ratings. The music was played in huge urban nightclubs, arenas and even stadiums. Album sales by artists such as Selena, La Mafia, Mazz and Emilio soared past 300,000 units.

According to Ramiro Burr, the boom had inevitably peaked by March 1995, when the hugely popular singer Selena was gunned down at a Corpus Christi motel by the former manager of her fan club. Her death shortly before her 24th birthday sparked a wave of even larger popularity that, for a time, masked the flattening of the Tejano market.

Though the 1990s boom couldn't be sustained, Tejano music remains popular and can be seen as part of the national and worldwide surge in interest in all things Latin.

Today, old and new forms coexist in Mexican-American music in Texas. Mariachi bands are popular, though this appears to be a style imported to Texas rather than true Tex-Mex music. Little Joe Hernández and Sunny Ozuna are still musically active. Santiago Jiménez's sons carry on his work. Santiago Jr. plays much in his father's style. His better-known brother, Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, has played with Ry Cooder and other rockers and for several years teamed up with the late Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers and Freddy Fender in the Texas Tornados, whose repertoire spanned virtually the music of all Texans – black, white and brown.

Southern Rock & Rock n' Roll

To some extent, rock 'n' roll is a synthesis of all that went before in popular music, and Texas has played a strong role in its development. Buddy Holly's 1958 appearances in England inspired, among others, the young John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton.

One English rock group, The Hollies, even took the name of the Lubbock musician, who called one of his early groups the Western Bop Band.

Southeast Texans Janis Joplin and Johnny Winter and the Vaughan brothers of Dallas – Jimmie and the late Stevie Ray – grew up steeped in the blues. Among Doug Sahm's major influences growing up in San Antonio were Bob Wills, T-Bone Walker and the Tex-Mex music that was all around him.

Texas seems to have spawned the first psychedelic band, Austin's Thirteenth Floor Elevators, as well as Roy Orbison and Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and the popular Dixie Chicks. One of the Chicks, Natalie Maines, is the daughter of Lloyd Maines, a record producer and pedal steel player who has often played and recorded with Ely.

Today, all these forms of music continue to exist and interact, as new immigrant groups add influences. And discoveries are still being made in older forms. In 1994, Dallas folklorist Alan Govenar, through his Documentary Arts organization, recorded not only Alfred "Snuff" Johnson of Austin playing spirituals and black cowboy blues, but also 95-year-old black songster John T. Samples of Kilgore. Govenar has also recorded Vietnamese musicians playing traditional music and found younger Vietnamese Texans playing rock 'n' roll.

Texas Monthly magazine's May 2000 Texas music issue included a profile of Mexican-American rapper Carlos Coy, "a product of his environment, Houston's South Side, the same neighborhood that turned out underground mixer DJ Screw, rapper Lil' Keke and Scarface."

As Texas evolves, so does its music, and the possibilities seem endless.

Religious music

Sacred music has a long tradition in the state of Texas. The East Texas Musical Convention was organized in 1855, and is the oldest Sacred Harp convention in Texas, and the second oldest in the United States. The Southwest Texas Sacred Harp Convention was organized in 1900.

Sacred Harp and other books in four shape notation were the forerunners of seven shape note gospel music. According to the Handbook of Texas, "The first Texas community singing using the seven shape note tradition reportedly occurred in the latter part of December 1879. Itinerant teachers representing the A. J. Showalter Company of Dalton, Georgia – including company founder A. J. Showalter – ventured west to Giddings in East Texas and conducted a rural music school that lasted for several weeks." Texas has been home to several gospel music convention publishers, including the National Music Company, Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company (founded in 1924 by V. O. Stamps, who later partnered with J. R. Baxter), and the Stamps Quartet Music Company (founded by Frank Stamps). Convention gospel music and community singings still occur in a number of Texas towns, including Mineral Wells, Brownfield, Jacksonville, Seymour, and Stephenville.

Ragtime & Vaudeville

Ragtime composer Scott Joplin was born in 1868 near Texarkana, and later became famous playing music halls in Missouri.

Gene Austin was born in Gainesville in 1900; he sold 86 million records and was Franklin D. Roosevelt's favorite singer. Austin popularized the song "My Blue Heaven", which sold more than 10 million copies. He is remembered as the original "crooner", and was commonly known as "The Voice of the Southland".


Texas has been the birthplace of numerous country musicians and continues to host a vibrant country music culture. Texan honky-tonk musicians like Milton Brown and Bob Wills helped popularize Western swing, and modern artists like Asleep at the Wheel continue the genre's distinct style. Other genres of country also evolved in Texas. Marcia Ball, born in Orange, Texas, combined country with Cajun influences. Ernest Tubb and his country song "I'm Walking the Floor Over You" set the stage for the rise of stars like Lefty Frizzell and Johnny Horton. Ponty Bone, Joe Ely, Lloyd Maines, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Tommy Hancock, among others, helped invent the 1960s Lubbock sound, based out of Lubbock, Texas. Mac Davis is a singer and songwriter from Lubbock who became one of the most successful country singers of the 1970s and 1980s.

Outlaw country is another offshoot that has its roots in Texas, with Texans like Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson leading the movement, ably supported by writers like Billy Joe Shaver. It was this scene, largely based out of Austin, that inspired performers like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, whose poetic narratives owe much to the folk tradition and proved enormously influential on younger Texan artists such as Nanci Griffith and Steve Earle, who in turn inspired the alternative country scene. Tex Ritter and Jim Reeves both grew up in Panola County in East Texas. Bob Luman was born in Nacogdoches.

Kenny Rogers, from Houston, has a career spanning more than 50 years. His 1978 album The Gambler remains one of the most famous country albums ever released, having sold a reported 35 million copies worldwide. Despite his huge success he has yet to be inducted into either the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame or the national Country Music Hall of Fame. However, the BBC did name him the second best performer of all-time in a 1999 Country Music Television special. Also from the Houston area are Clint Black (grew up in Memorial), Robert Earl Keen (Sharpstown), and Lyle Lovett (grew up near Klein).

Modern musicians like George Strait, from the San Antonio area, continue to carry on the tradition of country music in Texas. Strait is a singer, actor, and music producer known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional country music. He holds the world record for the most #1 hit singles by any artist in the history of music on any chart or in any genre, having recorded 60 #1 hit singles as of 2016.

Within country music, the distinct styles of singers such as The Randy Rogers Band, Robert Earl Keen, Kevin Fowler, Cory Morrow, Jack Ingram, Jerry Jeff Walker, Pat Green, Wade Bowen, the Eli Young Band, and others are often dubbed "Texas music".

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Carthage, Texas.

Texas Blues

The blues originated in the Mississippi Delta and had spread to Texas by the beginning of the 20th century. African-American workers at lumber camps and oilfields loved the music, and avidly attended local performances. When the Great Depression hit, many of these musicians moved to cities like Houston and Galveston, where they created a style known as Texas blues. Blind Lemon Jefferson (in and around Dallas) was the first major artist of the field, and he was followed by legends like Henry Thomas, Blind Willie Johnson (who was principally a gospel singer), Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and T-Bone Walker, as well as Melvin Jackson, Alger "Texas" Alexander, Little Hat Jones, Buster Pickens, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Goree Carter. Freddie King, born in Gilmer, was active from the 1950s to the mid-1970s.

By the 1970s, Texas blues had lost much of its original popularity, but was eventually revived by the blues rock stylings of artists like John Nitzinger, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, ZZ Top, Bugs Henderson, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, who set the stage for a 1980s blues revival led by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins.


Goree Carter's "Rock Awhile" (1949) has been cited by several writers as the first rock and roll record. It featured an over-driven electric guitar style similar to that of Chuck Berry years later. The song was recorded in Houston, where Carter was born and lived most of his life.

One of the first major Texan musical stars was Buddy Holly, who was born in Lubbock in 1936. Another rock and roll singer, Roy Orbison, from Wink, Texas, also made waves in the 1950s. He was followed by Buddy Knox, Bobby Fuller, and Dallas rockabilly stars Gene Summers, Johnny Carroll, and Ronnie Dawson. Southern soul singer Joe Tex was born in Rogers, Texas.

The 1960s witnessed such greats as Janis Joplin, from Port Arthur; she is ranked #46 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Doug Sahm's Sir Douglas Quintet released several innovative performances, as did psychedelic rock underground legends 13th Floor Elevators, led by Roky Erickson. Garage rock band The Heart Beats, formed in 1966, were based in Lubbock. The hard rock of ZZ Top was born out of the bands American Blues and Moving Sidewalks in Houston in 1969. In 1971, Bloodrock, from Fort Worth, released "D.O.A.", which became a major international hit. Don Henley of the Eagles grew up in Linden.

Psychedelic Rock

The psychedelic rock movement of the 1960s and 1970s has deep roots in Texas. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators were an American rock band from Austin, Texas, formed by guitarist and vocalist Roky Erickson, electric jug player Tommy Hall, and guitarist Stacy Sutherland, which existed from 1965 to 1969. During their career, the band released four LPs and seven 45s for the International Artists record label. Bubble Puppy was formed in 1966 in San Antonio by Rod Prince and Roy Cox. The name "Bubble Puppy" was taken from "Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy", a fictitious children's game in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Bubble Puppy's live debut was as the opening act for The Who in San Antonio.

The Sherwoods were a Corpus Christi quintet that was popular from 1968 to 1969 and made two 45s on Smash Records in 1969. They were a psychedelic pop group, patterned after the Moving Sidewalks (featuring Billy Gibbons) and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Red Krayola and The Golden Dawn carried the genre into the 1970s, but as George Kinney of The Golden Dawn said, "when the whole Elevator/Golden Dawn mystique was gone forever, at least as an actual presence on the Austin music scene. It all disappeared like a mysterious dream of super substantial reality, like the shadows of a once and future dawn." The front man of Red Krayola, Mayo Thompson, made a respectable career as a producer of some of the underground’s biggest names ― Pere Ubu, Primal Scream, The Fall, The Raincoats, and Scritti Politti to name a few. In the 1990s, the significant influence shown by notable rock pioneer Roky Erickson was honored in the 1990 Warner Brothers release of Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, on which various rockers recorded his songs.

The Black Angels from Austin formed in May 2004; the band's name derives from the Velvet Underground song "The Black Angel's Death Song". In 2005, the Black Angels were featured on a dual-disc compilation album of psychedelic music called Psychedelica Vol.1 from Northern Star Records. Smoke and Feathers were formed in Austin in 2007. Austin Psych Fest was founded in 2008 by members of the psychedelic music scene, The Reverberation Appreciation Society, to honor the legacy of Austin's musical history as the birthplace of psychedelic rock through the creation of a music and multimedia art festival.

Punk Rock

Texas has long had a distinctive punk rock sound emergent from a number of urban scenes, especially those of Austin and Houston. Austin in particular has been considered a significant punk city; major venues there in the late 1970s and early 1980s included Raul's, where the Austin punk/new wave scene began, spearheaded by the Skunks and the Violators in the first weeks of 1978. Other significant venues included the Continental Club on South Congress Avenue and the (now defunct) Club Foot Fourth Street downtown. The Skunks, which featured Jesse Sublett on bass and vocals, attracted significant attention to the scene because of their loyal following and also because touring bands, including Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, the Clash, Blondie, and others dropped in at their gigs at Raul's and the Continental Club to jam with them.

Radio played a major role in spreading the sound and creating the culture of punk. In Houston, two pioneering radio programs in particular, Marilyn Mock's S&M Show on KTRU-FM and Perry Coma's The Funhouse Show on KPFT-FM, were instrumental in helping create the punk scene in that city, through band interviews and playing import-only records, as well as the flamboyant personalities of the DJs. Local punk zines like XLR8 and music weeklies such as Public News, and independent record outlets like Real Records, Record Rack, Record Exchange, and Vinal Edge not only scoured the world for punk and "new wave" sounds, but they hosted in-store concerts where fans could meet the artists. The punk scene flourished in the early 1980s, led by the Skunks, the Big Boys, The Dicks, MDC, Really Red, The Degenerates, Mydolls, The Hates, The Judy's, the Volumatix, DRI, Sik Mentality, the Killerwatts and Culturcide; so did the scene in Dallas, with groups such as The Telefones, NCM, Bobby Soxx & the Teenage Queers, Bomb Squad, The Hugh Beaumont Experience and Stick Men with Ray Guns. Some notable Houston clubs were the Island, Cabaret Voltaire (a punk rock club in the warehouse district of downtown), the Apocalypse Monster Club (in the Clear Lake area near NASA), the Axiom (in one of the old Cabaret Voltaire locations), Fitzgerald's, The Abyss, and Numbers (a predominantly new wave club). In the mid-1990s, post-punk act At the Drive-In formed in El Paso, along with its two offshoots, Sparta and The Mars Volta. Among some notable horror punk and psychobilly bands that hail from Texas are The Reverend Horton Heat, Horror Cult, and The Flametrick Subs.

Alternative rock

Several alternative rock bands from Texas also reached mainstream popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. These included bands like Toadies (whose biggest hit, "Possum Kingdom", was named for a lake west of Fort Worth), Flickerstick, Fastball, Butthole Surfers (from San Antonio), The Duckhills, Tripping Daisy, Blue October, and, by the end of the 1990s, The Polyphonic Spree and Chlorine. In the 2000s, Bowling for Soup achieved significant popularity, as well as Burden Brothers, which was co-founded by Toadies lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis. Christian-themed alternative band Flyleaf is from Belton. Also, Forever The Sickest Kids and Crown The Empire are from Dallas.

Heavy metal

The Arlington-area band Pantera went on to become heavily influential in the metal genre. Other notable bands include Las Cruces, Drowning Pool, The Sword, Fair to Midland, Coilback, Oh, Sleeper, and Element Eighty. Houston metal bands from the 1980s include Helstar, King's X, Galactic Cowboys, The Hunger, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, and Dead Horse.


Tactical Sekt, Sin D.N.A., Virus Filter, Souless Affection are aggrotech bands based in Texas, as is the multifaceted electronic duo Mentallo and the Fixer. Bozo Porno Circus from Houston was awarded "Best Industrial Band" by the Houston Press six years straight from 1998 to 2004, and re-activated in 2009 with new members. Chant out of Austin was awarded "Best Performing Industrial Band" in the 2009-2010 Austin Music Awards. Torque Order is an industrial metal band based in Austin. Dallas-area industrial acts include RivetHead, The Razorblade Dolls, Echelon High, and Koppur Thief

Rhythm & Blues

Singer Esther Phillips and pianist and singer Camille Howard were born in Galveston. Electric blues and R&B guitarist, singer, and songwriter Barbara Lynn was born in Beaumont. She is best known for her 1962 hit "You'll Lose A Good Thing". Beyoncé is from Houston.

Southern Hip-Hop

Houston has long been the focus of an independent hip-hop music scene, influencing and influenced by the larger Southern hip-hop and gangsta rap communities. Notable artists include Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Bun B, Pimp C, Z-Ro, Big Hawk, Big Moe, Big Mello, Big Steve, Chris Ward, C-Note, Devin The Dude, DJ DMD, E.S.G., Fat Pat, J-Dawg, Killa Kyleon, Kirko Bangz, Lil' Keke, Lil' Flip, Lil' O, Lil' Troy, Mike D, Mike Jones, K-Rino, Al-D, Mr. 3-2, Slim Thug, South Park Mexican, Yungstar, Trae Tha Truth, Scarface and groups such as ABN, Boss Hogg Outlawz, Botany Boyz, Coughee Brothaz, D.E.A., Guerilla Maab, Geto Boys, Herschelwood Hardheadz, M.O.B., Screwed Up Click, South Park Coalition and UGK. The Houston hip-hop scene is known for the chopped and screwed sound invented by Screwed Up Click leader DJ Screw, and remains the location most associated with the style.

Vanilla Ice was born in Dallas, and grew up moving between Dallas and Miami. The D.O.C. is from West Dallas. He worked with Dr. Dre as an artist and writer. Other rappers such as Dorrough, Big Lurch, and Dondria also hail from Dallas. There is also a burgeoning R&B scene that includes alumni such as Destiny's Child and Gary Clark, Jr., as well as up-and-comers Leon Bridges, The Suffers, Latasha Lee, Tameca Jones, and Alesia Lani among others.

Texas Music Scenes


Austin's artistic community helped popularize artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, The Police, and Elvis Costello in the Southwest. Tex-Mex/new wave bands Vallejo and Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns gained some national fame. Local punk and new wave bands in the late 1970s included The Huns and the Skunks, along with The Delinquents, Standing Waves, and Jack Limbo. These bands soon clashed with an influx of hardcore punk bands like The Dicks, The Offenders, and Big Boys. Other notable Austin bands, such as ambient duo Stars of the Lid, eschewed this clash all together.

Austin, especially through its central music scene in the corridors of Red River Avenue, South Congress Avenue and 6th Street, has been dubbed "The Live Music Capital of the World". The Texas Music Hall of Fame and Texas Music Museum are also located here. The Austin area is home to South by Southwest, one of the largest annual music festivals in the United States. Austin has long been a hub of innovative psychedelic sound, from the pioneering Roky Erikson and the 13th Floor Elevators to the Butthole Surfers, and hosts an annual festival celebrating the genre and Austin's contributions to it called Austin Psych Fest.

Austin is currently home to a number of bands that are enjoying popularity as part of the American indie rock scene. These include Spoon, Ghostland Observatory, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River, The Black Angels, The Bright Light Social Hour, and White Denim, among others.

The transition of the Austin music scene from the mid-seventies progressive country scene to the punk/new wave and alternative influence that followed is captured in Jesse Sublett's memoir, Never the Same Again: A Rock n' Roll Gothic, which details Sublett's experiences with the Skunks and other bands during that time period. Sublett has also documented the Austin music scene in his music-themed crime novels, Rock Critic Murders, Tough Baby, and Boiled in Concrete.

Beaumont-Port Arthur

This area on the Gulf Coast northeast of Houston is also home to many legendary musicians: George Jones, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Janis Joplin, Barbara Lynn, Edgar and Johnny Winter, J.P. Richardson a.k.a. "The Big Bopper", country stars Mark Chesnutt, Tracy Byrd, Clay Walker, and Jimmy and David Lee Kaiser, and rappers Pimp C and Bun B of UGK.

Corpus Christi

Known primarily for Tejano star Selena Quintanilla, Corpus Christi was also home to Reverend Horton Heat singer Jim Heath and garage rock band Zakary Thaks.


Dallas has a rich musical heritage. The number of prolific musicians who played in the Deep Ellum Central Track area was rivaled in the South only by Memphis' Beale Street. T-Bone Walker, Lead Belly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, and even Robert Johnson himself first recorded in this area, just as Bob Wills and the Light Crust Doughboys were leaving the studio. In the 1960s, Dallas produced notable entertainers Trini Lopez and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Other notable musicians from Dallas include Erykah Badu, Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, The Polyphonic Spree, Old 97's, St. Vincent, Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians, LehtMoJoe, Meat Loaf, Norah Jones, Willie Hutch, Baboon, The Secret Machines, Dorrough, The Paper Chase, Devourment, Absu, Course of Empire, Coilback, MC 900 Ft. Jesus, Reverend Horton Heat and Pantera.

Dallas has a vibrant live music scene that continues to center around the Deep Ellum area. Unfortunately, the City of Dallas at one time restricted the growth of this neighborhood, an attempt to control traffic and crime, to the point where the history and heritage were no longer thriving, however many efforts are being made to reverse these trends.


The music culture that exists in Denton was seeded initially by the 1947 birth of the University of North Texas College of Music Jazz studies program, the first of its kind in the country, but in the last 20 years Denton's vibrant and diverse music culture has grown beyond the collegiate world of UNT's College of Music. In 2004 and 2005, the roster of the town's performing and touring music acts remained between 90 and 100, a high number considering the town's 2000 U.S. census population figure of only 80,537 people.

In 2007 and 2008, Denton's music scene received feature attention from The Guardian, Pop Matters, and The New York Times. Paste Magazine named Denton the best music scene in the United States in 2008. The Denton music scene received the #1 rank for "Top 10 under recognized music locations" in the world, on a culture blog called Listverse.

Denton bands include longtime mainstay and two-time Grammy Award-winning Brave Combo, EXIT 380, The Wee-Beasties, Norah Jones, Deep Blue Something, The Ducks (not the former Moby Grape band), Lift to Experience, Centro-Matic, Brutal Juice, Six Hard Brothers and a Dog, Drunk Skunks, Harry Has a Head Like a Ping Pong Balls, SayWhat, Chyeah Boi, the Don't Be Scurd, OkieDoke, South San Gabriel, Slobberbone, Pops Carter and the Funkmonsters, The Drams, Bosque Brown, Eli Young Band, Matthew and The Arrogant Sea, Midlake, Record Hop, History At Our Disposal, The Marked Men, Fergus & Geronimo, The Wax Museums, Violent Squid, and Neon Indian.

Several music festivals are hosted in Denton, including 35 Denton and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival.

Fort Worth

From the 1960s to the 1980s, an independent label out of Fort Worth known as Bluebonnet recorded numerous albums of high-quality material by many pioneer artists in the country music and religious genres such as Bradley Kincaid, the Girls of the Golden West, Buddy Starcher, Yodelin' Kenny Roberts, and many other country music and gospel pioneers, many of whom had been popular on radio in the first half of the 20th century.

Before this, however, Bob Wills got his start just north of Fort Worth in Saginaw at the Light Crust Flour Mill. This is where Bob Wills, Leon McAuliffe, and Tommy Duncan first started playing music together. Wills recruited the Light Crust Doughboys and they later changed their name to Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman was born and raised in Fort Worth, as were fellow jazz artists Ronald Shannon Jackson, Charles Moffett, Prince Lasha, John Carter, Dewey Redman, Julius Hemphill, and Cornell Dupree, all of whom attended I.M. Terrell High School, where G.A. Baxter was the music instructor.

In 1971, Bloodrock had 3 albums at once on Billboard Magazine′s top 100 charts. After 8 albums on E.M.I./Capitol, they maintain a worldwide cult following. A co-writer of Bloodrock songs and hits, Johnny Nitzinger still plays local venues and creates recordings. Toadies' debut album Rubberneck went platinum in 1996. T-Bone Burnett grew up in Fort Worth. Nintendocore band Sky Eats Airplane formed in Ft. Worth.

Also, many songwriters of note have come from Fort Worth including Townes Van Zandt, Delbert McClinton, Ray Sharpe, Johnny Redd and David Persons.


Houston has been home to some of the more experimental and extreme music of Texas. From Mayo Thompson's psychedelic free music group the Red Crayola and the experimental work of composer Pauline Oliveros to the hardcore rap of the Geto Boys and the primordial sludge rock of Rusted Shut, the 713 has long waved the freak flag over the Lone Star state. The Pain Teens, Charalambides, and Richard Ramirez are among the better known Houston noise artists. Notable rising bands include Spain Colored Orange, Southern Backtones, Jennifer Grassman, and The Ton Tons.

Among the city's most influential punk bands were the hardcore Really Red and DRI. The local scene has also included Culturcide, Verbal Abuse, Stark Raving Mad, Sik Mentality, Dresden 45, Legionnaire's Disease, The Hates, AK-47, The Killerwatz, Free Money, The Recipients, and The Degenerates. Houston is known for its chopped and screwed rap music, popularized by DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click. Houston also is the home of lo-fi music straddling blues, folk, and antiphonal traditions, as epitomized by elusive cult hero Jandek and the slightly more visible Jana Hunter. Houston is the birthplace and final resting place of Chris Whitley (1960–2005) who won a Grammy for his Living with the Law, revolutionized the steel dobro guitar, and enjoyed a massive cult following, but died prematurely of lung cancer in 2005. Houston is home to Beyoncé Knowles, Hilary Duff, Kelly Rowland, and the other original members of Destiny's Child.

Houston is the birthplace of Grammy Award Winning Gospel Artist Yolanda Adams; who in 2009 was named the #1 Gospel Artist of the last decade by Billboard Magazine. Jazz artists born in Houston include saxophonists Billy Harper and Walter Smith III, pianists Robert Glasper and Jason Moran, and drummer Eric Harland. Prairie View Co-eds formed at Prairie View A&M University in the 1940s. Houston has had sizable folk-country and blues scenes dating back to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, which included many now famous performers such as Nancy Griffith, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, Big Mama Thornton, and Johnny Copeland who were signed with the hometown Peacock Records.

San Antonio

Still known primarily for Tejano music and Heavy Metal, San Antonio throws the Tejano Conjunto Festival, an annual three-day event celebrating Conjunto music, the largest of its kind in the world. Many of the Conjunto legends lived and recorded here. Names like Valerio Longoria, Santiago Jimenez Sr. and Jr., Flaco Jimenez (who has recorded with everyone from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones), Steve Jordan and many others. San Antonio was also one of the major centers for Chicano Soul along with Los Angeles, California. Sunny & the Sunliners cracked the Top Ten and were the first Mexican American act to appear nationally on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Other significant Chicano Soul bands included Rudy & The Reno Bops, Royal Jesters, Dimas Garza, The Dell Tones, Joe Bravo, The Lyrics, and Sonny Ace.

At first thought, San Antonio, Texas, is not immediately associated with the development of jazz, yet the city does have a long and very creditable history. In the 1920s and '30s, many of the legendary territory bands played there as they swung through south-east Texas, among them Alphonso Trent and Tenrrence T. Holder. Resident in San Antonio itself for long periods was Troy Floyd's band, sometime home to trumpeter Don Albert, and tenor saxophonists Herschel Evans and Buddy Tate. Floyd's band regularly played at both the Shadowland Ballroom and the Plaza Hotel; from the latter, they were broadcast over station HTSA. When Don Albert later formed his own band, which included clarinetists and saxophonists Herb Hall and Louis Cottrell plus trumpeter Alvin Alcorn, they, too, played the Shadowland. Albert, incidentally, was the first bandleader to use the word "swing" in his billing: "America's Greatest Swing Band". And drummer Clifford "Boots" Douglas formed his band, Boots and his Buddies, in San Antonio in 1932 and remained based there.

Among individual musicians with long associations with the city were brothers Ernie and Emilio Caceres. Clarinetist and saxophonist Ernie played with many swing-era bands, including those led by Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Woody Herman. After long periods in New York, where he was often in the company of Eddie Condon and Bobby Hackett, he settled in San Antonio, remaining there for the rest of his life. His violin-playing brother, Emilio, was less adventurous, preferring to stay close to San Antonio; and another brother, trumpeter Pinero, also played in the area. The Caceres family name lives on in the 1990s through David, a fine young bop altoist who can be heard in some of the city's many nightspots which cater to the tourists, mostly American, who descend in the thousands on San Antonio all year round.

San Antonio also spawned the Butthole Surfers, a hardcore alternative rock band which broke into the mainstream in the mid-1990s, signing to Capitol Records and successfully charting several singles and albums. Other successful acts born and bred in San Antonio are: Boxcar Satan, Two Tons of Steel, The Union Underground, Las Cruces, Sane, and Fearless Iranians from Hell. San Antonio has deep roots in America's classical music, Jazz, with KRTU-FM representing one of the most significant jazz radio stations in the country, and the Jim Cullum Jazz Band serving as a staple act on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Fellow college radio station, KSYM-FM, features 'The Best of the Beatles' with Richard Turner, relying on one of the most comprehensive collections of Beatles recordings ever amassed to spin on his weekly show. San Antonio is also home to the Texas Music Coalition and Local 782, both musician-led, non-profit initiatives seeking to educate and empower Texas-based musicians by organizing events throughout the year, including seminars, performances, mixers, showcases, and fundraisers.

A slew of new rock bands started in the 00s have joined a couple longer-running favorites, Girl In A Coma - whose song "Clumsy Sky" won Best Punk Song in The 7th Annual Independent Music Awards - and Buttercup, to develop a burgeoning 'indie' scene. These bands include: Blowing Trees, Morris Orchids, We Leave At Midnight, Cartographers, and Education, the last whom's 2011 album, Age Cage, was produced by Gordon Raphael, renowned producer of the Strokes' Is This It and Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch. Exponential Records has helped put San Antonio Electronica on the map, catapulting artists like Diego Chavez, a.k.a. Aether - whose album Artifacts received a 7 out of 10 from the notoriously stingy Pitchfork Media, and Ernest Gonzales, a.k.a. Mexicans With Guns, to much wider audiences.

San Antonio has a thriving Hip Hop community as well, including emcee/producer Worldwide, the R&B-tinged duo Mojoe, of Classic.Ghetto.Soul fame, the rapper Question, collaborator with Talib Kweli and Bun B on the track "I'm So Tall", the producer/rapper Richie Branson, born Marcus Brown, whose clientele include Def Jam Recordings and Sony Music Entertainment, and the Vultures crew, whose album Desert Eagles, Vol. 1 was praised by the San Antonio Current's Best Music Advocate of 2010 as "the most complete record to ever come out of San Antonio". San Antonio is also home to Texas Death core band Upon A Burning Body. Christopher Cross from San Antonio had 2 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Sailing" in 1980.

San Marcos

San Marcos, in the greater Austin area, has a number of local bands, including This Will Destroy You and The Oh Hellos.

Texas Iconic Musicians

Roy Orbison

Between '57 and '64, the Vernon-born Orbison had 22 songs appear on the Top 40 charts. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Orbison awed audiences for 30 years with his powerful four-octave voice. The way he infused operatic qualities into rock, country and rockabilly was both unique and encapsulating, earning him the No. 13 spot on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers. He's also No. 37 on their list of the greatest artists of all time.

Buddy Holly

Few embody the spirit of rock music more fully Buddy Holly. Perhaps only Elvis has him beat there. It's hard to comprehend how much an impact Holly had on early rock 'n' roll or how much influence he's had on the generations that followed him -- especially considering he was only 22 when he died. He was one of the original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and took the No. 13 spot on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest artists of all time. Not bad for a dude whose mainstream success lasted less than two years.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson is simply one of the biggest national icons to ever come from the great State of Texas. His discography contains over 60 studio albums, 10 live albums and 27 collaborative albums, and he's sold 40 million of those albums in the United States alone. During that time, he's written dozens of songs that have become country standards, including "Pretty Paper," "Hello Walls," and "Crazy." As expected, he's received just about every award ever and been inducted into just about every type of hall of fame that's out there, including eight Grammy's and a Kennedy Center Honor, which is perhaps the highest honor a performing artist can receive. His contributions to country music alone make him a legend -- and that's before even taking into account his acting career, his work with Farm Aid, his annual picnic, his work as a disc jockey or his political advocacy. The guy's just a living legend.

Beyonce Knowles

The 75 million records Knowles has sold worldwide not only make her one of the most successful female musicians of all time, but one of the most successful musicians period. VH1 ranked her No. 3 in their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music. The RIAA also recognized Knowles as the top artist of the '00s. We also acknowledge that, despite losing to Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, her video for "Single Ladies" was indeed the best video of all time.

Townes Van Zandt

Though he never really had anything close to a hit song in his 30-year career, Van Zandt was one of the most highly respected country and folk artist of his generation among his peers. Some of his songs did eventually become hits for other artists; Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's version of "Pancho and Lefty" comes to mind. Today, his influence runs deep, with many of today's most esteemed artists citing him as one of the all-time greats.

Roky Erickson

It seems like every musician from Texas has some sort of story to tell about the oft-troubled Roky Erickson. Though he may not boast the awards, the tens of millions of records sold or the overwhelming mainstream success that nearly every other artist on the list has, the fact that we rank him so highly should serve as a testament to Erickson's undeniable talent, influence in the garage and psychedelic genres, and the respect that nearly every living Texas musician has for the guy. His 1966 song "You're Going to Miss Me" will forever be known as one of the greatest garage rock songs of all time.

Buck Owens

The Sherman-born Owens is most known for pioneering the Bakersfield sound, the rock-influenced style that incorporated electric instruments and louder drums, which served as direct opposition to the slick, string-laden brand of country coming out of Nashville in the '50s and '60s. The Country Music Hall of Famer also hosted Hee Haw in the '70s and '80s and had 21 No. 1 hit songs in his nearly 60-year long career.

Meat Loaf

The Dallas-born singer got his start on Broadway, then parlayed that success to a role in the biggest cult film of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and singing with Ted Nugent before starting his own solo career. With his larger-than-life persona and balls-out performances Meat Loaf was one of the most commercially-successful acts of the '70s. His '77 album Bat Out of Hell is the fifth-highest-selling album of all time, moving over 34 million copies.

Sly Stone

While fronting Sly & The Family Stone in the '60s and '70s, the Denton born Stone was one of the leading pioneers of soul, funk, and psychedelic music. And the number of times hip-hop artists have sampled his music is just ridiculous. The Family Stone's album Stand! charted in '69 and subsequently stayed on the charts for over 80 weeks, with almost all of its singles going gold in the process. It's hard to express just how important a group like The Family Stone was, but Joel Selvin may have put it best when he wrote, "There are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone."

Van Cliburn

Perhaps no other artist on the list had as big of a triumph as Van Cliburn, when, at the height of the Cold War in '58, the 23-year-old Cliburn took the Gold Medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. The highly-regarded piano prodigy also performed at Carnegie Hall when he was only 14. Held every four years, his own Van Cliburn International Piano Competition continues to bring worldwide attention to the state.

Janis Joplin

Joplin is pretty undisputedly known as the greatest white female singer of the '60s, with a powerfully raspy delivery that has influenced just about every female rock 'n' roll singer since. No longer were females expected to just look and sound pretty. Joplin's ballsy vocal approach proved that women could be just as powerful and gritty force in the previously male-dominated rock world. But it wasn't just her vocal style that makes her noteworthy; her stage presence, sexuality and overall persona forever redefined the role of women in rock music.

Waylon Jennings

No other country artist in the '70s more fully embodied the outlaw subgenre than Jennings did. His influence in terms of the hardcore country and rock 'n" roll attitude he was known for influenced the emergence of the alt-country, the neo-traditionalist and the outsider country movements that followed. The Country Music Hall of Famer and multiple Grammy winner also had 54 of his albums appear on the charts.

Scott Joplin

"Maple Leaf Rag," one of the 44 rags the Texarkana native wrote during his somewhat short career, has become known as the archetypal composition of the genre. Joplin himself is known as "The King of Ragtime."

George Strait

Known as the "King of Country," George Strait's 44 Billboard No. 1 country singles are more than other country artist ever achieved. He's also the only artist to have a song hit No. 1 on any of Billboard's charts for 30 consecutive years.

Don Henley

With his band The Eagles, for which he served as drummer and lead singer, the Gilmer born Henley sold 120 million records worldwide, making them the highest-selling American band in history. Their greatest hits album is also the sixth highest-selling album of all time with over 42 million copies sold. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was ranked No. 87 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers. Not bad for a drummer.

George Jones

Jones is as known for his emotive vocals -- he was often called "the greatest living country singer" -- as for the hard-living lifestyle that influenced so many of his songs. The singer, who grew up near Beaumont, released over 150 hit singles in his nearly 60-year career. The Country Music Hall of Famer was also honored by the highly prestigious Kennedy Center.

Blind Lemon Jefferson

One of the most popular and influential blues performers of the '20s, Jefferson has been called "The Father of Texas Blues." He is indisputably one of the most important figures in the Texas blues and country genres. He and colleague Lead Belly also had a huge impact shaping Deep Ellum into the deeply-rooted arts district it has remained ever since.

Lead Belly

You'd be hard pressed to name a country, blues or folk singer who hasn't covered a Lead Belly song at one point in their career whether they realize it or not. With his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar and his prolific catalog, it is safe to say that, in one way or another, he's influenced nearly every performer who has ever played those genres -- and quite possibly all those who ever will.

Bob Wills

Forever known as "The King of Western Swing," Wills helped create and popularize a genre that became one of the most popular types of music in the '40s. Without Wills' influence on their careers, others from this list -- acts such as Buck Owens, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Strait and Asleep at the Wheel -- would have had drastically different lives. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and has been honored twice by the Texas State Legislature -- the second time to make western swing the Official Music of Texas.

Kris Kristofferson

His song "Bobby McGee" was not just a huge hit for Roger Miller, who originally performed it, but for six artists on our Top 100 list alone, as well as dozens more artists not from Texas. As of the late '80s, over 450 artists had recorded songs written by Kristofferson. At the '71 Grammys, three of the five finalists for Best Country Song were Kristofferson compositions. The serious, personal tone of his style helped to reshape country music.

Erykah Badu

Every now and then, a singer can transcend their music and remind everyone that the voice is indeed an instrument. Badu is one such virtuostic vocalist, and her fusing of hip-hop, soul and jazz helped nurture the growing neo-soul movement.

Kinky Friedman

Long before Friedman ran for governor in 2004 on the platform of "dewussifying Texas," the country singer and satirist was already strongly politically-minded. The mix of sharp wit, political commentary, and humor in Friedman's songs earned him the nickname "The Frank Zappa of country music."

Ornette Coleman

Fort Worth-born saxophonist Coleman's penchant for "playing in the cracks," between notes, which many other players perceived as being out of tune, was one of the most important individuals in the history of avant-garde jazz and an instrumental figure in developing the free jazz movement. His style has never quite been matched -- or tamed.

Delbert McClinton

The perennial sideman and songwriter was eventually able to carve out a pretty successful solo career, charting several albums and singles of his own. His longevity, musicianship, and consistency have made him a legend in the roots community. He's also said to have taught John Lennon the distinctive harmonica sound made famous in songs like "Love Me Do."

T Bone Burnett

Even as critically acclaimed and popular as Fort Worth's T Bone Burnett is as a songwriter and performer, his biggest successes have come through helming projects from the likes of Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and Gillian Welch as a producer. His production credits also include some of the best soundtracks released in the last two decades, including The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, Cold Mountain, A Mighty Wind, Walk the Line and Crazy Heart. In the process, Burnett's earned himself multiple Grammys, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Mickey Gilley

Early in Gilley's music career, he opened his first club near Pasadena, Texas. It quickly became known as the "world's biggest honky tonk," and ultimately became the basis for the popular movie Urban Cowboy. Gilley was already considered a superstar in the '70s, but after the release of the film, Gilley became the face of the country crossover movement.

Lefty Frizzell

The Corsicana born Frizzell was instrumental in bringing honky tonk out of the barrooms and to more commercially-acceptable venues such as mainstream radio -- all while never losing credibility with either faction. Furthermore, many legendary musicians such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, George Jones and John Forbert all site Frizzell as a major influence.

Gene Autry

Similar to the way John Wayne was more than just an actor, Gene Autry was more than just a musician. Like Wayne or even Elvis, Authorware B.Smyth was larger than life, coming to embody a set of ideals larger than the songs he was performing. How different would Christmas be without his songs "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty the Snowman"? Autry is also the only performer to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


There was no bigger metal band in the '90s than Pantera. Period. In fact, the band nearly singlehandedly killed off the speed and hair metal movements of the '80s. During their time together, they sold over 20 million records, with their third album debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Both of those are nearly unthinkable feats given how brutally heavy their music was.

Billy Joe Shaver

The self-professed "wacko from Waco" never became the big name that his peers like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson did, but the songs he penned for them and others became some of the biggest standards in '70s country music. The largely Shaver written album Honky Tonk Heroes helped carve out the outlaw image Waylon Jennings will forever be known for.

Billy Preston

Billy Preston was almost as renowned for his session work with artists like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and The Beatles as he was for his own material like the popular "Nothing From Nothing." Often called "the fifth Beatle," it has been said that John Lennon once proposed that Preston become an official member of the group before Paul McCartney nixed the idea. Aside from being the first musical guest on Saturday Night Live, his name appears in the liner notes of significant albums like the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers (as well as six of their other albums), The Beatles' Abbey Road and Let it Be, and Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful.

Jack Teagarden

The Vernon-born Teagarden is perhaps the most highly-regarded jazz trombonists of all time, and was especially famous during the pre-bop era. He has since become known as the "Father of Jazz Trombone" for his playing on records with Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Eddie Condon, among others, as well as leading bands of his own.

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel

In the span of their 40-year-long career, the Austin-based band has recorded 20-plus studio albums, charted more than 20 singles and earned themselves nine Grammy's. They currently remain the main driving force keeping alive the style of Texas swing originated by Bob Wills in the '30s.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Though he only recorded four studio albums in his relatively short career, Stevie Ray Vaughan sold over 11.5 million records and came to influence thousands of blues and rock guitarists with his intense soloing. As such, Rolling Stone ranked Stevie 7th on their notorious 100 greatest guitarist list.

Ernest Tubb

Born in Crisp, Texas, Tubb was another early pioneer of country music. Though he was not the first country recording artist, he was, perhaps, the first among those in the honky tonk subgenre to become really well-known. He was so instrumental in popularizing country music throughout the country that he became the first country artist to play Carnegie Hall in '47. The country music hall of famer has been called "Texas personified," and his most popular nickname was "The Texas Troubador."

Vernon Dalhart

Marion Try Slaughter was a real-life cattle puncher in the late 1800s. When he decided to become a musician, he took the names of two Texas towns (Vernon and Dalhart) to use his stage name. He made over 400 recordings with Thomas Edison, in which he performed classical music. But it was his most famous recording in 1924 that earned him a spot in history. Dalhart's "The Wreck of the Old 97" was the first country song to ever become popular, and also the genre's first million-record seller. It's also where the band The Old 97's derived their name from.

Butthole Surfers

Becoming a famous band is not an easy task -- and if you name yourself something offensive, sing openly about drugs, release ultra-challenging avant-garde music and perform the most depraved live shows around, the charge becomes nearly impossible. As vile as the majority of mainstream America has considered them throughout their careers, the Butthole Surfers have remained innovators and were one of the acts instrumental in bridging the gap between the cult following '80s hardcore music was relegated to and the ultra-popularity that '90s grunge enjoyed.

Barry White

Although he is most known for his deep baritone voice and sexy brand of R&B, Galveston's Barry White was actually the first person to record a disco song according to AllMusic. The number of children conceived while listening to White's music alone would earn him a spot on this list even if his worldwide record sales weren't around the 100 million mark.

Stephen Stills

In '97, the Dallas-born Stills became the first person ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice on the same night, thanks to his work in Buffalo Springfield and in Crosby, Stills and Nash, during which he helped craft some of the most enduring music from that time, period. His agile finger-picked style also earned him the No. 28 spot on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarist list.

Johnny Mathis

There are prolific careers and then there are careers as inexhaustibly productive as the one Gilmer's Johnny Mathis has had. At least 73 of his albums have appeared on the Billboard charts, with many of them achieving gold and platinum statuses. The Guinness Book of World Records estimates that Mathis has sold over 350 million records worldwide, too, which is just mind-boggling.

Boz Scaggs

It was while attending school in Dallas that William Scaggs' classmate first began calling him Bosley, which was later shortened to Boz. A member of Steve Miller's high school band The Marksmen and later the Steve Miller Band, his biggest commercial success was the 1976's Silk Degrees.

Trini Lopez

Dallas native Lopez got his start performing in his teens at a nightclub owned by Jack Ruby. Nicknamed "The Latin Legend," Lopez had 13 hit singles in the '60s and '70s. His biggest hit, a cover of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer," helped bring folk back into the mainstream.

Steve Miller

Miller's career can be divided into at least two distinct periods: First, as a popular blues figure in the late '60s; later, as a pop-rock superstar beginning in the early '70s. His greatest hits album has sold over 13 million copies in the U.S. alone, earning it a spot among the RIAA's best-selling albums of all time.

Lyle Lovett

Despite not having one of his singles chart since the '80s, the singer-songwriter has had at least four albums certified Gold by the RIAA. If that weren't enough, Lovett grew up in Klein, Texas, a town named after his great grandfather. It doesn't get much more Texan than that.

Victoria Spivey

Victoria Spivey is one of the most influential female blues artists of all time, partly because she never shied away from bold and often overtly sexually suggestive lyrics. For instance, her most widely-known song, "Organ Grinder Blues," contains lyrical gems like "It's not your organ, but it's the way you grind." Saucy!

Johnny Horton

Though his bread and butter was honky tonk, Horton remains most known for his so-called "saga songs," which briefly popularized historical ballads during the early '60s. Though "Honky Tonk Man" and "I'm a One Woman Man" have been covered by big-name country stars, "The Battle of New Orleans" and "Sink the Bismarck" remain his legacy.

Jim Reeves

Despite passing away in the late '60s, Reeves' songs charted into the '80s. The Galloway-raised singer-songwriter, eventually known as Gentleman Jim, was one of the biggest pop-country crooners in his day, helping to expand the popularity of the genre into Europe.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

If an instrument can be used to play the blues, you can bet Gatemouth Brown played it. The legend was not just a bluesman, though: He's regarded as a master of Texas swing, jazz, country, and Cajun music as well.

Light Crust Doughboys

Different incarnations of the Doughboys have been performing since the '30s, essentially making them the longest running country band going. The original lineup was created by the Burrus Mill & Elevator Company in Saginaw in order to promote their Light Crust Flour on weekly radio broadcasts, and the band members were all required to work day jobs at the factory as well. The group is also responsible for launching the careers of many legendary figures in Texas music, such as Bob Wills and Milton Brown.

Clint Black

The Houston-raised Black was one of the most wildly popular country performers of the '90s. On the strength of his critically and commercially successful debut album, Black was one of the leaders of the movement that pushed country music into the forefront of mainstream, mass-market popularity -- and in the process opened the door for artists like Garth Brooks to find success as well. Black has sold over 19 million records worldwide, making him one of the most successful musicians of his era.

At the Drive-In

The wildly influential post-hardcore band from El Paso made a huge impact in their relatively short existence. Their final album, '00's Relationship of Command, has been called the landmark album in their genre by some -- and simply a masterpiece by others. Kerrang!, Spin Magazine, and MTV2 all included it on greatest albums list, with the latter calling it the 90th best album ever.

Johnny Winter/Edgar Winter

The Winter brothers probably each deserve their own spots on the list but we had a hard time playing favorites. Johnny was named Rolling Stone's 73rd greatest guitarist of all time, and the legendary Edgar Winter Group recorded "Free Ride."

Lightnin' Hopkins

Perhaps the most respected guitarist in the much-heralded Texas blues scene, Hopkins placed 71st on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists. The unpredictable bluesman from Houston played with Blind Lemon Jefferson in the '20s and remained an active entertainer until his death in the early '80s.

ZZ Top

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted trio recorded 14 studio albums on their way to becoming one of the most popular hard rock acts in history. After selling over 25 million records in the U.S. alone, the Texas House of Representatives declared them "Official Heroes of the State of Texas." Really.

Eddie Durham

The San Marcos guitarist, trombonist, composer and arranger worked with greats like Cab Calloway, Glenn Miller and Count Basie. He's credited not only with composing the now-popular jazz standard "Topsy" and providing the arrangement for Miller's "In the Mood," but he's also recognized as the performer of the very first electric guitar solo in the '30s.

Roger Miller

The singer-songwriter was almost as well-known for writing songs for other artists as for himself. Besides the pair of Tony awards he earned, the 11 Grammy's Miller won was a record until Michael Jackson released Thriller. Oh, and the Fort Worth-born musician is a member of just about every country music-related hall of fame there is.

Big Mama Thornton

As much as Janis Joplin is credited with being a tremendous vocal influence for later generations, Thornton's tough persona and guttural, ballsy vocal delivery predated Joplin's emergence by at least a decade. Her biggest claim to fame was being the first to record the song "Hound Dog" -- a good three years before Elvis released his version.

The D.O.C.

Though Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E and MC Ren get the lion's share of the credit for the success of seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A., The D.O.C. was one of the biggest behind-the-scenes forces behind their popularity, writing or co-writing most of the group's lyrics.

Freddie King

The Gilmer-born King ranks 25th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists. The bluesmaster is also part of the 2012 class of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kenny Rogers

The country legend from Houston has charted with over 120 different singles in his astounding six-decade career. In the '80s, a joint poll of USA Today and People magazine readers named Rogers their "Favorite Singer of All Time." From Grammy's to CMA's, the list of awards Rogers has won is far too extensive to list in this space.

Moe Bandy

The San Antonio-raised Bandy was one of country music's biggest names in the '70s, releasing humor-laced barroom fare throughout his career.

Seals and Crofts

Jim Seals (whose brother "England Dan" Seals also appears on this list) and Dash Crofts played in a number of bands together, including The Champs and Glenn Campbell & The GCs, before branching out and recording hits like '72's "Summer Breeze."

Phil Ochs

Ochs is known for the hundreds of protest songs he wrote as a key member of the '60s folk revival. He never approached the success of Bob Dylan, but his influence may have.

Jimmy Dean

The actor, television personality and sausage mogul recorded popular country singles in four different decades. His biggest hit was '61's "Big Bad John."

Dale Evans

Dale Evans starred with husband Roy Rogers in a pair of wildly popular television programs in the '50s and '60s. CMT later named the singer-songwriter, who penned the song "Happy Trails," one of the Greatest Women in Country Music.

Tex Ritter

Country Music Hall of Famer Woodward Maurice Ritter was so quintessential to the Texas music scene he became known simply as "Tex." He performed everywhere from Broadway to the Grand Ole Opry to the big screen in dozens of feature films.

Jimmie Vaughan

The older brother of Texas blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan is known as "The Godfather of Austin Blues." As a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, he popularized "Tuff Enuff" and "Wrap it Up," two of the most used songs in the history of advertising, we'd guess.

The Big Bopper

Jiles Perry "J. P." Richardson, Jr. grew up in Beaumont and though his career was short, he was still able to make a sizable impact musically. He penned George Jones' "White Lightning" as well as his own hit, "Chantilly Lace." His death in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens was immortalized in Don McClean's "American Pie."

Mike Nesmith

The former Monkee attended Thomas Jefferson High School before eventually moving to Los Angeles and becoming the guitarist for one of the biggest bands of the '60s. And he was the most outspoken member of The Monkees regarding their prefabricated nature, which makes sense as he was the most accomplished musician of the four prior to joining.

The Reverend Horton Heat

Jim "Reverend" Heath got his start playing in Deep Ellum in the mid-'80s, taking the pyschobilly style first pioneered by bands like The Cramps, and ultimately becoming the genre's most quintessential figure. The Rev's phenomenal guitar technique, blend of styles and showmanship has garnered him one of the biggest cult followings in the state to this day.


The Port Arthur-raised duo consisting of Chad "Pimp C" Butler and Bernard "Bun B" Freeman began releasing music as Underground Kingz in '92. Their own albums as well as monster collaborations like Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" and Three 6 Mafia's "Sippin' on Some Syrup" made the duo one of the most respected hip-hop acts to ever emerge from Texas.

Guy Clark

Clark's songs have been recorded by some of country's biggest names, including Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Rodney Crowell. He is also frequently called to as "the fifth Highwayman," referring to his importance to the success of the genre's greatest supergroup.

Larry Gatlin

Between his solo career and his work with his siblings as part of The Gatlin Brothers group, Gatlin has amassed 33 Top 40 hit singles. The most popular of the brothers' songs is "All the Gold in California," which was a No. 1 hit in '79.

Red Steagall

Steagall's career has spanned over 40 years, in which he's been a radio and television personality, a music executive responsible for the signing of Reba McEntire, a rodeo announcer, a singer-songwriter and the poet-laureate for the State of Texas.

Tanya Tucker

Tucker scored her first hit song at age 13, but eventually was able to change her image to the gritty country-rock hybrid that helped her become known as the biggest female in the outlaw country subgenre -- a subset that is almost entirely male otherwise.

Charlie Christian

The Bonham-born Christian was a guitarist and key member of the Benny Goodman orchestra that, along with Miles Davis, helped craft the bebop and cool jazz movements. His unique style, said to have been more influenced by horn players than fellow guitarists, directly influenced greats such as Les Paul.

King Curtis

Born in Fort Worth, Curtis first picked up the saxophone at age 12. He subsequently became one of the great rock session saxophonists of his era, playing the distinctive riff on The Coasters' "Yakety Yak." His band The Kingpins were also the group who opened for The Beatles during their famed Shea Stadium performance. His session work also includes the original theme to Soul Train.


Billboard named Chorpus Christi artist Selena Quintanilla-Perez the top Latin artist of the '90s. The single-named singer who was murdered at the age of 23 by the president of her fan club has also been called the "Mexican Madonna." Her double platinum posthumous album became the first Tejano album to ever reach No. 1 in America.

Hank Thompson

The 2009 film Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges an Academy Award, was loosely based on the life of Waco's Hank Thompson. Along with his band The Brazos Valley Boys, his brand of Western swing became known forevermore as "The Hank Thompson Sound." They were named the top Country Western band by Billlboard for 14 straight years of Thompson's astounding 60-year career. Their song "The Wild Side of Life" is also one of country's most enduring standards.

Charley Pride

The now-Dallas resident and minority owner of the Texas Rangers, Pride released eight No. 1 hit singles between '69 and '71, turning him into one of the most dominating performers on the country charts during that time. On the strength of crossover hit "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'," Pride earned several awards in '71, including the Country Music Association's coveted Entertainer of the Year award. Pride is the only black country musician to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and one of the few to have success in the largely Caucasian-dominated country genre.

The Mars Volta

Incorporating elements of math rock into their sound, El Paso's The Mars Volta are one of the most popular prog groups currently going. The duo, both former members of At the Drive-In, released their sixth album earlier this year.

Domingo "Sam the Sham" Samudio

The Dallas-born frontman of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs experienced much popularity in the mid-'60s thanks to the song "Wooly Bully" and the string of novelty hits that followed.

Edie Brickell

Oak Cliff native Edie Brickell is most known for fronting the band New Bohemians, whose biggest success was the 1988 hit single "What I Am."

Old 97's

The Dallas outfit were one of the first bands in the state to get big while pioneering the then-brand-new subgenre alt-country in the mid-'90s. They've since released nine studio albums, and alt-country has grown so much in popularity that several radio stations around the country are dedicated to nothing but that genre. We actually thought about ranking them a little higher on the list but, come on, this placement just made a little too much sense.

The Polyphonic Spree

The cult-like orchestral pop group formed in the wake of Tripping Daisy's untimely demise in 1999. Frequently touring with 20-plus members the group have embedded the band in the collective conscious as the go-to pop culture reference when citing a band with many members.

England Dan & John Ford Coley

The duo who met when they were classmates at W. W. Samuell High School here in Dallas and had a rash of hit adult contemporary singles in the late '70s, most notably 1976's "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight."


Though the Fort Worth-based band hasn't scored a major national hit in nearly 17 years, they remain one of the region's most popular touring acts. This year will mark the fifth incarnation of their annual Dia De Los Toadies festival.

Christopher Cross

The five-time Grammy winning yacht-rocker also has an Oscar under his belt as well.


The music-review aggregator site Metacritic named the Austin band "The Top Overall Band of the Decade" for their consistently highly-reviewed music between '00 and '09.

Jerry Jeff Walker

The Austin resident wrote "Mr. Bojangles" in 1968, a song that's been covered by dozens.

Brave Combo

Paste Magazine named Denton the best music scene of year in 2008, and nobody had a problem with this statement in the write-up: "The Grand Pooh-Bah of Denton bands, Brave Combo, is in many ways the template from which all the rest are cut: eclectic and artistically ambitious, with a high degree of musicianship and a strong DIY ethic."

Mac Davis

The Lubbock native got his start in the '60s working for Nancy Sinatra's publishing company and went on to pen a string of hits for Elvis Presley, and several other notable artists of that time. Eventually, he forged out a successful career singing his own tunes, notably "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me."

Mason Williams

As a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Williams gave Steve Martin one of his first jobs in the industry. It was also while working for the program that he penned "Classical Gas," which has logged over six million plays on television as of 2008, and become one of the most lucrative instrumental songs ever recorded.

Will Johnson (Centro-matic)

Without the benefit of hindsight, it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how great some artists are. Denton's Will Johnson might not be as flashy a name as, say, Usher, but time will reveal how his work in Funland, Centromatic, South San Gabriel, Monsters of Folk, New Multitudes, Overseas and separately as a solo artist make him one of the most respected artists of his generation.

Freddy Fender

Fender's best-known song is "Before the Last Teardrop Falls." More important, though, is that he eliminated much of the stigma of recording bilingual tracks -- especially in the country music genre.

Norah Jones

Even if Jones' father weren't the most well-known sitar player in the world, the Booker T. High School and University of North Texas graduate would still have much renown for her own pop-jazz accomplishments. Her debut record alone sold more than 20 million copies.

Barbara Mandrell

The Houston native rode two decades worth of top ten country hits to become one of the most successful female country stars of the '70s and '80s and earn a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Kelly Clarkson

The winner of the first season of American Idol, the Burleson-raised Clarkson has gone on to sell over 24 million albums worldwide.

Dixie Chicks

They've won 13 Grammys and sold over 26 million albums in the U.S. alone, making them the highest-selling all female band of all time.


Though he spent much of his childhood in Tennessee and later in Atlanta, the R&B superstar was actually born in Dallas. With seven Grammys and 65 million records sold worldwide, he ranks among the best selling artists of all time.