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Capturing Texas’ rich music culture in two pages is impossible. Heck, multiple books have been written about Willie Nelson alone. We’ll just try to hit the high notes.
Check out our YouTube playlist featuring the songs listed below.
1946: Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys release their biggest hit, New Spanish Two Step, which spends 16 weeks at No. 1 on the country chart.
1946: Clifton Chenier designs the first frottoir, or zydeco washboard, with Willie Landry in Port Arthur.
1946: Billy Preston, often considered the fifth Beatle, is born in Houston.
1950: Corsicana’s Lefty Frizzell releases No. 1 hit If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.
1953: Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton of Houston releases the song Hound Dog, which later becomes a hit for Elvis Presley.
1956: Perryville’s Ray Price releases Crazy Arms, which spends 20 weeks at No. 1 on the country chart.
1958: Pianist Van Cliburn, who grew up in Kilgore, achieves worldwide recognition when he wins the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
1959: Feb. 3 is the Day the Music Died. Music stars J.P. Richardson of Sabine Pass, better known as the Big Bopper; Buddy Holly of Lubbock; and Ritchie Valens die in a plane crash in Iowa. Littlefield’s Waylon Jennings had given his seat on the plane to Richardson.
1959: George Jones of Saratoga lands at No. 1 on the country chart for the first time with White Lightning.
1960: Blues artist Sam “Lightnin’ ” Hopkins of Centerville debuts at Carnegie Hall.
1960: Lubbock band the Crickets release their single I Fought the Law, which becomes a top-10 hit in 1966 when the Bob Fuller Four of El Paso cover it.
1960: He’ll Have To Go by Panola County’s Jim Reeves reaches No. 1 on the charts.
1964: The Beatles play their first Texas show, at Dallas Memorial Auditorium. A year later, they return for two shows at Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston.
1965: The Supremes become the first artists to play the Astrodome when they opened for Judy Garland.
1967: Janis Joplin of Port Arthur delivers her career-defining performance at the Monterey Pop festival.
1971: Icon Willie Nelson moves from Nashville to Austin, forever changing the music scene in the Texas capital.
1971: English-born William John Marsh, composer of Texas, Our Texas, the official state song, dies in Fort Worth. He was 90.
1972: The first Kerrville Folk Festival is held.
1975: Accordionist Flaco Jiménez of San Antonio releases his first studio album, El Rey de Texas.
1979: Asleep at the Wheel wins its first Grammy Award with the single One O’Clock Jump.
1980: Austin music venue the Armadillo World Headquarters holds a New Year’s Eve blowout before closing its doors for good.
1982: Fool Hearted Memory becomes the first No. 1 hit for Poteet’s George Strait.
1982: Tejano star Lydia Mendoza of Houston becomes the first Texan to receive the National Heritage Fellowship.
1983: Accordion master Narciso Martínez, who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, receives the National Heritage Fellowship.
1985: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble win their first Grammy with their album Blues Explosion.
1995: Lake Jackson’s Selena wins a Grammy for best Mexican-American album for Live!
1998: The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is created in Carthage.
2001: Beyoncé of Houston wins the first of her 23 Grammys when her group Destiny’s Child’s song Say My Name wins twice in the R&B category.
2002: Kelly Clarkson of Fort Worth wins season one of American Idol. She has gone on to win three Grammy Awards.
2002: Texas Co-op Power, in its October issue, takes a look at artists who helped put Texas music on the map.
2004: ZZ Top of Houston is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2005: San Angelo band Los Lonely Boys, credited with fusing Tejano music with rock, wins a Grammy for best pop performance by a duo or group with Heaven.
2007: Sound Grammar by jazz great Ornette Coleman of Fort Worth wins the Pulitzer Prize for music.