Texas Music Pioneers (A-M) / Texas Music History Tour

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Texas Music Pioneers | Texas Music Libraries and Archives | Historic Texas Music Venues | Other music tourism sites


Pioneers A-M | Pioneers N-Z

The following Texans, now deceased, made significant contributions to the art or business of music. This list of music pioneers is part of the Texas Music History Tour, a guide to experiencing in present-day locations Texas' rich musical past.

For 594 of the pioneers below, the Texas Music Office lists: website links, the instrument and genre of music played, where they were born and where they attended school, their burial site, as well as additional sites of interest.

If you have photos or information not currently listed below for any of these artists, or if you would like to suggest other Texans to be included, please email us at music [at] gov.texas.gov. The rotating photos in our masthead are provided courtesy the Texas State Archives, the Texas Music Museum and the Austin History Center. Other photos include artist promotional photos, album covers and photos donated to the TMO.

Texas' music-related museums, libraries, archives and halls of fame frequently have public exhibits devoted to music history. Our guide to these buildings is located here.

Some of the information found below is from the Handbook of Texas Music published August 2003 by the Texas State Historical Association.


Pioneers A-M

(Click here for Pioneers N-Z)



Photo of Darrell Abbott Darrell Lance Abbott ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Rock
Based in: Arlington
Instrument: guitar
Birthplace: Arlington Birthdate: 8/20/1966 Deathdate: 12/8/2004
Darrell Abbott formed the rock band Pantera along with his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, in the early 1980s. After releasing three albums with singer Terry Glaze, the group explored a harder direction with the addition of new vocalist Philip Anselmo. Pantera soon became one of the world's top metal bands, credited with keeping the genre alive throughout the 1990s. Abbott's heavy but melodic style led to his being recognized as one of the top ten metal guitarists of all time by Guitar Player magazine. After the demise of Pantera, the Abbott brothers formed a new band, Damageplan, in 2003. Darrell Abbott, along with three others, was shot to death in Columbus, Ohio during a performance by Damageplan.
Schools: Arlington High School

Jacques Abram
Genres: Classical
Based in: Lufkin
Instrument: piano
Birthplace: Lufkin Birthdate: 1915 Deathdate: 1998
Abram was a child prodigy beginning piano lessons at age five, by age six he was playing recitals in movie houses across the state. At age 22, he was awarded the National Federation of Music Club's Young Artists Award in a tie with Ida Krehm. Abram was known as a brilliant studio teacher and the originator of "Issues in Music," a popular course at the University of South Florida which was later brought to television. He gave Arthur Benjamin's "Concerto quasi una Fantasia" its first English performance at the Cheltenham Festival in 1952 and the first American performance in San Antonio in 1953.
Colleges: He received a Diploma with Distinction from Julliard.

Elmer Akins
Genres: Christian
Based in: Austin
Instrument: vocals
Birthplace: Pilot Knob Birthdate: 3/10/1911 Deathdate: 12/9/1998
The fifth child of sharecroppers Jim and Hattie Akins, Elmer Akins became a beloved and respected gospel radio announcer and live gospel music promoter in Austin. While living in Austin during the early 1940s, Akins listened to WLAC-AM out of Nashville and developed a passion for the live broadcasts of gospel quartets, such as the Fairfield Four. He began singing in choirs and quartets and hosted live gospel programs at KNOW radio. Akins's Sunday morning gospel program on KVET-AM was the oldest continuously running American radio show, and Akins earned recognition as the longest-continuing radio host in the United States by the Texas Association of Broadcasters, when they honored him as a Texas Broadcast Legend in 1998. Akins also earned the titles "Voice of Austin" and "Deacon of Austin Gospel Music" during his half-century of broadcasting.

Victor Nicholas Alessandro, Jr.
Genres: Classical
Based in: San Antonio
Instrument: conductor
Birthplace: Waco Birthdate: 11/27/1915 Deathdate: 11/27/1976
Victor Alessandro, Jr. was introduced to music at an early age; he studied horn with his father, a prominent music teacher and conductor. In 1951, Alessandro took over as the conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. The next year he also assumed leadership of the San Antonio Symphony Society's Grand Opera Festival. He introduced works by Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, and Alban Berg to San Antonio audiences before they became fashionable elsewhere. Alessandro received honorary doctorates from the Eastman School and Southern Methodist University, as well as the Alice M. Ditson Award for service to American music.

Alger "Texas" Alexander ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Blues
Based in: Leona
Instrument: vocals
Birthplace: Jewett Birthdate: 9/12/1900 Deathdate: 4/16/1954
Buried at: Longstreet Cemetery, Grimes County, Texas
Alexander was the first person to record the classic song "House Of The Rising Sun" with his 1928 recording called "Rising Sun." He is known as one of the most important blues singers of the 1920s to the mid 1950s.

Birdie Alexander
Genres: Classical
Based in: Dallas
Instrument: piano, vocals
Birthplace: Lincoln County, TN Birthdate: 3/24/1870 Deathdate: 8/2/1960
Birdie Alexander is credited with having laid the foundation for the system of music education in Dallas' public schools. She established the teaching of singing in all grades and was the first to form citywide choral groups for public performance. Under her direction the first operetta was performed at Turner Hall on May 24 and 25, 1901, to raise funds for the children's department of the Dallas Public Library. In 1910 she organized the Dallas High School orchestra, which continued to function with annual concerts. In the same year she inaugurated music appreciation lessons in the schools with the purchase of the first record player and recordings with funds subscribed by interested citizens. Miss Alexander was a charter member of the first board of directors of the Music Supervisors' National Conference, and as chairman of the MSNC was responsible for the formation of the music department of the Texas State Teachers Association. In the summers of 1908, 1909, and 1910 she organized and taught courses in music education at the University of Texas. In 1912 she edited Songs We Like to Sing. Because of her health she moved to El Paso in 1913, and there until her death she taught piano and was a leader in musical activities.
Colleges: Mary Nash College in Sherman

Shelly Lee Alley
Genres: Country
Based in: Alleyton
Instrument: vocals, fiddle
Birthplace: Alleyton Birthdate: 7/6/1894 Deathdate: 1964
Fiddler and Western Swing pioneer Shelly Alley is considered one of the greatest bandleaders of the 1930s and 1940s. Descended from some of Stephen F. Austin's original settlers, Alley was born July 6, 1894 in Alleyton, Texas, a community named after his ancestors. Alley led the base orchestra in San Antonio where he was stationed during World War I. In the 1920s, Alley led several different orchestras, which played primarily pop and jazz. Alley became a pioneer in radio broadcasting when his bands got airtime on numerous Texas radio stations, including KRLD Radio in Dallas. In 1936, Alley formed the Alley Cats, which were based out of Houston and Beaumont. The band featured several members who would become famous in their own right, including "Pappy" Selph, Ted Daffon, Floyd Tillman, Clif Bruner, and his stepson, Clyde Brewer. Alley's most famous song, however, was "Travelin' Blues." In 1933, fellow Texan Jimmy Rodgers, accompanied by Shelly and his brother Alvin on the "twin-fiddles," first recorded the song in 1931. Over twenty different artists have since recorded "Travelin' Blues," including Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, and more recently, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Irl Allison, Sr.
Genres: Classical
Based in: Austin
Instrument: piano
Birthplace: Warren Birthdate: 4/18/1896 Deathdate: 9/6/1979
Irl Allison, Sr., pianist, music educator, was founder of the National Guild of Piano Teachers. Although Allison was best known to hundreds of thousands of music teachers and their pupils by his signature on certificates awarded by the National Guild for participation in the Annual National Piano Playing Auditions, he was also a renowned music teacher. He was also the founder and president of the guild-sponsored American College of Musicians and of the National Fraternity of Student Musicians. He founded the Golden Rule Peace Movement and began the World Peace Programs for radio in 1948 as well. Additionally, Allison compiled and edited the Irl Allison Library of Music in thirty-three volumes and initiated and promoted into an international event: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. In Austin, where the Allisons made their home after 1943, he was largely responsible for developing the Azalea Trail, and presented azaleas to Lady Bird Johnson for the Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

Joe Marion Allison ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Country
Based in: McKinney
Instrument: songwriter, producer
Birthplace: McKinney Birthdate: 10/3/1924 Deathdate: 8/2/2002
Buried at: Woodlawn Memorial Park, Nashville, TN
Joe Allison wrote songs recorded by Jim Reeves, Tex Ritter, Faron Young, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and Patsy Cline. Joe Allison's most important songwriting credit came in 1960, when Jim Reeves took "He'll Have to Go" to the top of the Country chart for 14 weeks. A song he wrote for Tex Ritter, "When You Leave Don't Slam the Door," hit the Country Top Five in October 1946.
Schools: East Van Vandt in Fort Worth; McKinney Texas Jr. High; Denison Texas High School
Colleges: Murray Jr. College in Tishomingo, OK
Sites of interest:
In 1943, Joe's first radio job was at KPLT in Paris, TX.
In 1944, Allison worked at radio station KMAC in San Antonio.

photo of Ruby Allmond playing the fiddleRuby Allmond
Genres: Country
Based in: Bonham
Instrument: songwriter, fiddle, guitar
Birthplace: Fannin County Birthdate: 5/2/1923 Deathdate: 1/23/2006
Ruby Allmond played fiddle and guitar, but is best remembered for her songwriting. Texas songwriter Cindy Walker introduced Ruby Allmond to Chet Atkins in Nashville starting Allmond's association with RCA Records. She wrote "I Mustn't Pass This Way Again" for Ferlin Husky and Dottie West took Allmond's song "Reno" into the Top 10. Ruby Allmond performed in fiddle bands in the 1940s when most female entertainers were regulated to vocals and provided the musical accompaniment to fellow Bonham resident Sam Rayburn's campaigns for Congress.
Schools: Bailey





Guadalupe L. "Wally" Almendar ~ 2
Genres: Polka, Tejano
Based in: Premont
Instrument: saxophone
Birthplace: Premont Birthdate: 9/12/1933 Deathdate: 9/15/1996
During the last four years of the the Beto Villa Orquesta from 1957 to 1960, son-in-law Wally Almendariz played saxophone and helped Beto with the band. Then joined Paulino Bernal Orquestra and helped record their hit "Mi Unico Camino." He also worked with Armando Marroquin at Ideal Records backing Chelo Silva, Narciso Martinez, Las Hermanas Mendoza, Rosita Fernandez and others. Armendarez recorded "Quatro Milpas" for Ideal and later worked with Nori Cantu, Esteban Jordan, Manny and the Sunglows and Shorty and the Corvettes.

Ventura Alonzo ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Tejano
Based in: Brownsville
Instrument: accordion, vocals
Birthplace: Matamoros, Mexico Birthdate: 12/30/1904 Deathdate: 12/14/2000
Mrs. Alonzo represented one of the first lady big band musicians in the state of Texas and the first Tejana accordionist to record. A mural dedicated in Ventura Alonzo's honor is located at Firestone Tire at 1601 Harrisburg at Macario Garcia Drive, Houston, Texas.
Sites of interest:
Ventura Alonzo's mural

Pearl Amster ~ 2
Genres: Classical
Based in: Austin
Instrument: piano
Birthplace: New York City Birthdate: 5/17/1917 Deathdate: 9/22/2000
Born Pearl Salzman, this classical pianist became a beloved patron of many Austin youth music programs and performing arts venues. Her many musical accomplishments include her debut performance at New York City's Town Hall at age 16, her recognition as the first woman awarded an artist diploma from the National Guild of Music and Teachers, her 1953 performance at Carnegie Hall's Steinway Concert Hall, and her release of her CD Inspired Collections, which was recorded on her 80th birthday. Amster studied under Rose Raymond and Roslyn Tureck and performed as a concert pianist and taught music for many years before she and her husband, Gus, moved to Austin in 1967. After moving to Austin, Amster continued to perform and teach piano. In 1984, the Austin Civic Orchestra named its annual youth concerto competition and accompanying scholarship in honor of Amster for her support of youth performance opportunities.

Clifford Jamal Antone
Genres: Blues
Based in: Austin
Instrument: Nightclub, Record Label and Record Store owner, bass
Birthplace: Port Arthur Birthdate: 10/27/1949 Deathdate: 5/23/2006
Clifford Antone acquired a taste for the blues at a young age, first from gospel music, then by ventures to juke joints on both sides of the Texas/Louisiana border. Antone moved to Austin in 1969, planning to study law at the University of Texas. Dropping out after a drug arrest that was later dismissed, he ran the local branch of the family delicatessen. On July 15, 1975, Antone opened Antone's nightclub at Sixth and Brazos, in what was then a rundown part of town. Soon blues superstars and sidemen made the club, where Antone would pay the band out of his pocket on a slow night, a regular stop. The first generation of Antone's performers included Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Fats Domino, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Albert King, Albert Collins, B.B. King,Bobby Blue Bland, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton. Local musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, W.C. Clark, Lou Ann Barton, Keith Ferguson, Doyle Bramhall, Angela Strehli, Denny Freeman, Paul Ray, and Kim Wilson, who served as the backing bands for the touring acts soon began to develop and establish their own followings combining and recombining into numerous acts and becoming the second generation of Antone's performers. As two of those acts, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble began their rise to international fame, the club moved to an old pizza parlor on Guadalupe, just north of the University of Texas, growing to include a record store across the street. In 1987, Antone expanded the brand to include Antone's Records and Tapes, issuing recordings by many of the acts who frequently played the nightclub. In 1997, the nightclub moved to its current location at 213 West Fifth Street where a third generation of talent began to emerge including: Eve Monsees, Gary Clark Jr. and Bob Schneider and the Scabs. Antone's philanthropy did not only extend to musicians. He began a series of ongoing benefits to "Help Clifford Help Kids" for local nonprofit American YouthWorks and was a principal organizer of the Neighbors in Need benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims. He taught a courses on the history of the blues at both the University of Texas in Austin and Texas State University in San Marcos and once stated, "My job is done if one kid is inspired to buy a Muddy Waters CD who didn't know who he was."
Colleges:
Antone taught at The University of Texas and Texas State University
Sites of interest:
Antone's Nightclub

Ernest Alvin "Texas Tom" Archia, Jr. ~ 2
Genres: Blues, Jazz
Based in: Houston
Instrument: tenor sax
Birthplace: Groveton Birthdate: 11/26/1919 Deathdate: 1/16/1977
Buried at: Oakwood Cemetery in Hempstead, TX
Tom Archia is a Texas tenor man that has performed with such giants as Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, and Milt Larkin. Archia studied under Percy McDavid, who taught an eclectic repertoire to his high school orchestra classes. Duke Ellington himself visited the school to hear the orchestra. In high school, Archia's own band consisted of Richie Dell on piano, the Jacquet brothers and Arnett Cobb on tenor saxophone and that was just the beginning.
Schools: Phyllis Wheatley High School
Colleges: Tom majored in Education at Prairie View A&M, graduating in 1939
Sites of interest:
Archia was living as a teenager in the Fifth Ward, at 4519 Lyons Avenue in Houston, across from the old St. Elizabeth's Hospital. (Illinois and Russell Jacquet lived down the street.)
Tom played with Milton Larkin and his band at the Aragon Ballroom in Houston in 1936.

John Ardoin ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Classical
Based in: Dallas
Instrument: music critic
Birthplace: Alexandria, LA Birthdate: 1/8/1935 Deathdate: 3/18/2001
John Ardoin, longtime music critic of The Dallas Morning News, was internationally known as an expert on opera diva Maria Callas. Ardoin often wrote about Callus, who was considered the godmother of the Dallas Opera, and penned four books about her as well. He was considered the foremost expert on her life and career. In June 1966 he became only the second music critic ever at The Dallas Morning News.
Colleges: University of North Texas; B.A. in music theory and composition from the University of Texas at Austin; Master's Degree from the University of Oklahoma; Michigan State University.

Robert Wright Armstrong
Genres: Classical
Based in: Brownwood
Instrument: band leader
Birthplace: Brownwood Birthdate: 12/18/1892 Deathdate: 9/15/1966
Buried at: Greenwood Cemetery in Fort Worth
Robert Wright Armstrong, railroad executive, soldier, and musician, was born in Brownwood, Texas, on December 18, 1892. The former military school cadet was active in both world wars. In the early 1920s. he organized the Old Gray Mare Band, which became the official band of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce. Armstrong was also a member of civic clubs in Fort Worth and Houston and the Western Railway Club of Chicago. He was active in the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and was president of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce from 1952 to 1954. In addition, he belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution and the Thirty-sixth Division Association (of which he was president in 1947-48).
Schools: Brownwood Public Schools

Joseph "Joe Tex" Arrington, Jr.
Genres: Blues
Based in: Rogers
Instrument: vocals
Birthplace: Rogers Birthdate: 8/8/1935 Deathdate: 8/12/1982
Joseph Arrington, now known as Joe Tex, introduced a style of music that has been copied by Isaac Hayes, Barry White, and others. In songs and ballads, in particular, he slowed the tempo slightly and started "rapping," that is, speaking verse that told the story in the middle of the song, before repeating the refrain and ending the song. The biggest hits of Joe Tex included "Hold On To What You Got," "Papa Was Too," "Skinny Legs and All," and "South Country," an album of Country and Western songs; his biggest seller was "I Gotcha," which went platinum (made 1,000,000 sales) in 1971.

Charline Arthur ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4
Genres: Country, Rockabilly
Based in: Henrietta
Instrument: vocals, guitar
Birthplace: Henrietta Birthdate: 9/2/1929 Deathdate: 11/27/1987
Buried at: Fort Worth
Colonel Tom Parker, who later managed Elvis Presley, heard Charline on a West Texas radio station and, in 1952, brought her to the attention of RCA Records. She toured with the top country stars of the time and appeared on such important programs as "Louisiana Hayride" and Dallas' "Big D Jamboree."

Samuel Erson Asbury ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Music history
Based in: Bryan
Instrument: composer
Birthplace: Charlotte, NC Birthdate: 9/26/1872 Deathdate: 1/10/1962
Buried at: College Station City Cemetery located at 2530 Texas Avenue South.
Ashbury accepted the position of assistant state chemist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station on the campus of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) in 1904. In 1951 he published a pamphlet, entitled Music as a Means of Historical Research, in which he discussed music as a medium for the presentation of historical narrative. He proposed to produce an opera to interpret the Texas Revolution through a cycle of music dramas, but it was never completed.
Colleges: North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering at Raleigh
Sites of interest:
Samuel Erson Asbury Papers, 1920-1955 are located at the Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Asbury attended the First Methodist Church in Bryan (one of the oldest downtown churches in Bryan) at 506 East 28th Street.

Jesse Ashlock
Genres: Country, Cowboy/Western
Based in: Fort Worth
Instrument: fiddle
Birthplace: Walker County Birthdate: 2/22/1915 Deathdate: 8/9/1976
Jesse Ashlock started playing violin at age nine. In 1932 Ashlock joined a band named Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies. In 1935 Ashlock joined Bob Wills's Original Texas Playboys as a fiddle player. He stayed with Bob Wills throughout the rest of Wills's career and continued playing shows until three days before his death. Ashlock's playing style had its roots in jazz. His fiddle style was characterized by hot breaks and hot choruses. His idol was jazz violinist Joe Venuti. Ashlock's attempt to play his fiddle like a horn earned him placement in the category of the "hot fiddlers."

Gene Austin
Genres: Pop
Based in: Gainesville
Instrument: vocals, composer
Birthplace: Gainesville Birthdate: 6/24/1900 Deathdate: 1/24/1972
Although singer and composer Gene Austin - born Eugene Lucas - composed more than 100 songs, he never learned to read music. He was one of the original crooners, and his tenor voice was well known in the early days of radio and on the hand-cranked phonographs of the 1920s and 1930s. His RCA Victor recordings sold a total of more than eighty-six million copies; one of the recordings, "My Blue Heaven" (1927), sold over twelve million records. He started his recording career in 1923, and the next year Jimmy McHugh produced his first hit song, "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street," with lyrics by Austin and Irving Mills. Other hit songs Austin introduced were "My Melancholy Baby," "Girl of My Dreams," "Ramona," "Carolina Moon," and "Sleepy Time Gal." His compositions included "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street," "How Come You Do Me Like You Do?" and "Lonesome Road." Austin debuted in the movies in 1932 and ultimately made three: "Sadie McKee," "Gift of Gab" and "Melody Cruise."

Orvon Gene Autry ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4
Genres: Country, Cowboy/Western
Based in: Tioga
Instrument: guitar, vocal
Birthplace: Tioga Birthdate: 9/29/1907 Deathdate: 10/3/1998
Buried at: Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California
Gene Autry's first hit, "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine," eventually sold a million copies. His recording of this song set an industry record for sales and became part of the first album in history to go gold. He was the first film actor ever to become a major television star. And, his 1949 recording "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," became the first record in history to go platinum. Autry is the only entertainer with 5 stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame (motion pictures, radio, music recording, television, live theater).
Schools: Autry graduated from Ravia High School (Oklahoma) in 1925.
Annual event: Tioga Museum & Heritage Association sponsors an annual Gene Autry Festival.

Etheldreda Belle "Dreda" Aves
Genres: Classical, Opera
Based in: Galveston
Instrument: soprano
Birthplace: Norwalk, OH Birthdate: 1890 Deathdate: 4/17/1942
Etheldreda (Dreda) Aves, operatic soprano, was born in the 1890s in Norwalk, Ohio. She was taken as a child to Galveston, where her father was rector of Trinity Episcopal Church. She first studied singing with H. T. Huffmeister, director of the Galveston Choral Club and organist at her father's church. Her father reportedly had "vigorous moral objections" to Dreda's singing in public, with the result that she sang only at church services until she left Texas. She debuted with the De Foe Carlin Opera Company in the title role of Carmen in Baltimore in 1922. Although she began her career as a contralto, with the advice and help of Vilonat, her last teacher, she became a dramatic soprano. Aves joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1927 and made her debut in Aïda in 1928. She remained with the Metropolitan through the end of the 1931-32 season. She moved from New York City to Buckeye Lake in Ohio in 1940 or 1941, and died on April 17, 1942, in the nearby town of Newark, after an illness of several months.
Colleges: University of Texas; Columbia University; Damrosch Institute of Musical Art in New York

Pedro Ayala ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4
Genres: Polka, Tejano, Conjunto
Based in: Rio Grande Valley
Instrument: accordion
Birthplace: Nuevo Leon, Mexico Birthdate: 1911 Deathdate: 12/1/1990
Ayala was one of the respected performers of Norteño and Conjunto music. The initial accordion-bajo lineup was complemented by the addition of the tololoche, or upright bass. This development is variously credited to Pedro Ayala. He turned full-time professional in his mid-twenties, playing throughout the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. His style and grace was unequaled by any of his contemporaries during the 1950s.

Harry "The Bear" Babasin ~ 2
Genres: Jazz
Based in: Dallas
Instrument: bass
Birthplace: Dallas Birthdate: 3/19/1921 Deathdate: 5/21/1988
Harry "the Bear" Babasin became interested in music at an early age; he was a skilled musician mastering many instruments: bassoon, bass, cello, and the clarinet. It wasn't until after his graduation from North Texas College that he was introduced to jazz. While attending a Charlie Fisk Orchestra concert he landed his first big break when he and a friend told Fisk that he could outplay any member of his orchestra. When asked to prove it, Babasin and his friend Ellis embarked on a staggering bit of showmanship. Impressed, Fisk hired the boys immidately and took them with him to Chicago. A year later Babasin joined the Bob Strong Orchestra in New York City. He worked with various other groups before joining up with Charlie Barnet, with whom he relocated to California with in 1945. While in Los Angeles, Babasin worked with several musicians, including Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Chet Baker. Babasin was also involved in establishing the Los Angeles Theasum, an archive specializing in the preservation of jazz and other music recordings as well as instruments and other artifacts donated by musicians.
Colleges: University of North Texas

Photograph of A. O. Babel from the late-1800sAmandus Oscar "A.O." Babel
Genres: Classical, Cowboy/Western
Based in: Seguin
Instrument: piano
Birthplace: Seguin Birthdate: 12/22/1858 Deathdate: 1/19/1896
Buried at: Randolph Cemetery in Randolph, NY
A.O. Babel worked as a guide, scout, cowboy, and interpreter before becoming a musician. Although he was the son of a music teacher, he discovered his gifts as a pianist while convalescing at Fort Sill, Indian Territory where he began giving concerts to fellow patients. Babel grew to be revered as "the original cowboy pianist" who played classical Mozart, Vivaldi and Chopin. During his career, he played throughout the northeastern United States, including New York City; he was also summoned to perform for European royalty. Babel died January 19, 1896 in Randolph, Cattaraugus County, New York.




Gil Baca
Genres: Polka, Czech
Based in: Fayetteville
Instrument: keyboards
Birthplace: Fayetteville Birthdate: 4/1/1925Deathdate: 10/15/10
Gil Baca, a third generation Czech musician, began his musical career at age 8 in Fayetteville with his family's band. (Baca's grandfather - Frank Baca - had previously founded the first Czech band in Texas.) Gil was known for his unique piano style which became referred to as the "Baca Beat." He performed at the inauguration of President Richard Nixon. He also performed for the United States' bicentennial celebration at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. Baca served with the original Washington Folk Festival, and the Texas Folk Festival in San Antonio. Baca was invited by the Czech Institute of Culture to play for the government prior to the country's demise in 1992; they sent Czech Airlines over to the U.S. to take him back to Czechoslovakia where he played two tours throughout the country.


Heinrich Backofen

Genres: Classical, German
Based in: Bettina
Instrument: clarinet, composer
Birthplace: Unavailable Birthdate: 1768 Deathdate: 1839
One of the earliest references to musical instruments among Texas German immigrants, Heinrich Backofen, son of a prominent Darmstadt clarinet maker, brought "a whole chest" of instruments with him to Bettina in 1847. Complete name may be: Johann Georg Heinrich Backofen.
Sites of interest:
Bettina, Texas

Mollie Arline Kirkland Bailey
Genres: Country, Cowboy/Western
Based in: Houston
Instrument: vocals
Birthplace: near Mobile, AL Birthdate: circa 11/2/1844 Deathdate: 10/2/1918
Buried at: Hollywood Cemetery, Houston
Mollie Bailey - "Circus Queen of the Southwest" - eloped and married James A. Bailey, and together with James's brother they formed the Bailey Family Troupe, which traveled through the country dancing, singing, and acting. During the Civil War, Mollie served as a nurse to the Hood's Texas Brigade. Some believe that she was a Conferderate spy who disguised herself as an elderly woman, passing through federal camps pretending to sell cookies. Mollie and her family enjoyed immediate success when they started the Bailey Circus, "A Texas Show for Texas People." At its height, the one-ring tent circus had thirty-one wagons and about 200 animals; it added elephant and camel acts in 1902. She is also credited for her generosity to various churches and for allowing poor children to attend the circus free. She was a pioneer as well, some say she was the first to show motion pictures in Texas including a one-reel film of the sinking of the USS Maine.

Sykes "Smith" Ballew ~ 2 ~ 3
Genres: Jazz, Polka
Based in: Palestine
Instrument: vocals
Birthplace: Palestine Birthdate: 1/21/1902 Deathdate: 5/2/1984
Buried at: Laurel Land Memorial Park, Fort Worth
Singer, Actor and Bandleader. He worked with a number of bandleaders including Ted Weems, Hal Kemp, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. In 1929 he organized the Smith Ballew Orchestra, and in the same year he signed his first recording contract with Okeh Records in Chicago. He appeared in twenty four films, 1936-50 including "Western Gold" (1937), "Under Arizona Skies" (1946), and "The Red Badge of Courage" (1951).
Schools: Sherman High School
Colleges: Austin College; University of Texas

Martin Banks ~ 2
~ 3 ~ 4
Genres: Big Band, Jazz
Based in: Austin
Instrument: trumpet, flugelhorn
Birthplace: Austin Birthdate: 6/21/1936 Deathdate: 8/20/2004
Considered a jazz giant in the Austin musical scene, Martin Banks is a member of the Texas Music Hall of Fame. In the 1960s he was a long time member of the Apollo Theater House Band in New York, a regular session musician at the original Motown recording studio. Martin played and/or recorded with many renowned musicians such as Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, James Brown, BB. King, Sun Ra, King Curtis, David "Fathead" Newman, Larry DC Williams, Freddie King, Dizzy Gillespie and countless others.

William Archibald Barclay
Genres: Christian
Based in: Temple
Instrument: organ
Birthplace: Temple Birthdate: 2/26/1907 Deathdate: 1/28/1969
Buried at: family plot in Temple
William Archibald Barclay was a gifted pianist and organist from his early days. He began with his mother as his first piano teacher. As a teenager he would travel alone by train to Dallas to study organ playing and he had the ability to play any piece of music by ear. Because of this skill he was playing in church by age 10. He graduated from Baylor University in Waco and afterwards moved to Fort Worth where he accepted the position of proffesor of organ at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He held numerous other positions in and around Fort Worth, including staff organist at WBAP radio in Fort Worth (1928–42), professor of organ at Trinity University in Waxahachie (1933–36), organist at Hemphill Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth (1933–36), organist (1942–46) and minister of music (1946–69) at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, staff organist at WBAP-TV in Fort Worth (1949–53), and "director of serious music" at WBAP–FM in Fort Worth (1955–57).

Benny Barnes ~ 2
Genres: Rock, Country
Based in: Beaumont
Instrument: vocals, guitar
Birthplace: Beaumont Birthdate: 1936 Deathdate: 8/8/1987
Benjamin M. Barnes Jr. combined rock and country to become a popular singer/guitarist that had several hits covering songs by "The Big Bopper." In the beginning of his career, he played guitar on an early George Jones Starday Records recording. After an oilfield injury, he began singing locally and joined the Starday roster. The next year he enjoyed a number 2 country hit with "Poor Man's Riches." However a followup was hard to come by. In 1960 he gave up singing and opened up a bar, The Blue Lantern in Beaumont. He made various other recordings, namely for Hallway (1962-65), Musicor (1965-68), Kapp (1968), Mega (1972), Starday (1973) and Playboy (1976). Only "I've Got Some Getting Over You To Do" on Playboy made the charts - a very modest number 94, in 1977.

Chase Baromeo
Genres: Classical, Opera
Based in: Austin
Instrument: operatic bass-baritone
Birthplace: Augusta, GA Birthdate: 8/19/1892 Deathdate: 8/7/1973
Chase Baromeo enjoyed a highly succesful operatic career and made his debut in 1923 at the Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy. From 1923 to 1926 he was a member of La Scala where he sang under Arturo Toscanini. Because of Italian's difficulty with pronouncing his last name he changed his name, originally Sikes, to Boromeo which he used for the rest of his life. He also sang at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, with the Chicago Civic Opera Company, and with the San Francisco Opera Company. From 1935 to 1938 he was with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York. He also performed with many of the leading symphony orchestras in the United States. He was married to Delphie Lindstrom on May 12, 1931; they had three children, one of whom predeceased him. While with the University of Texas, he directed and performed in many university-staged operas. Baromeo left the university in 1954 to join the University of Michigan faculty.

Carl Jared "Utah Carl" Beach ~ 2 ~ 3
Based in: Alvin
Instrument: vocals, guitar
Birthplace: Bartlesville, OK Birthdate: 1/31/1919 Deathdate: 9/24/1976

Dean Beard ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 4
Genres: Rockabilly
Based in: Santa Anna
Instrument: vocals, guitar
Birthplace: Santa Anna Birthdate: 1935 Deathdate: 4/1989
Dean Beard was a rockabilly pioneer from West Texas that opened for Scotty, Bill and Elvis (Presley) in Breckenridge and Stamford, TX. He formed a band called Dean Beard & The Crew Cats which featured Dean on piano, James Steward on lead guitar, Jimmy Seals on sax and Dash Crofts on drums where they played regularly to large crowds in the area's American Legions, VFWs and clubs. In 1956 he went to Memphis to record briefly at Sun Records.

Carl Beck
Genres: Classical
Based in: San Antonio
Instrument: conductor
Birthplace: Ilmenau, Thuringia Birthdate: 4/26/1850 Deathdate: 10/2/1920
Choir, orchestra and band conductor Carl Beck studied music in Germany until 1875 when he moved to the United States and settled in New Orleans as part of a music group. In May 1884 he moved to San Antonio to conduct the Beethoven Männerchor and the Mendelsshn Mixed Chorus. He is credited for performing the first complete symphony to be heard in Texas in 1887 at a festival in San Antonio. After living in San Antonio for twenty years, Beck moved to Odessa in 1904. There he organized a fourteen member band that toured from Toya to Abilene. He moved around a bit from Pecos to Kingsville before returning to San Antonio in 1919 to again accept conductorship of the Beethoven Männerchor.

Jim Beck
Genres: Country
Based in: Dallas
Instrument: record producer
Birthplace: Birthdate: Deathdate: 1956
Jim Beck was a Dallas area record producer famous for recording country artists at his Jim Beck's Recording Studio in Dallas. The studio was a haven for local country musicians looking for contacts and a recording contract. There are veterans who say Dallas might have become the nexus of country music as Nashville is today had studio owner Jim Beck (who co-wrote the legendary "If You Got the Money" with Lefty Frizzell) not tragically suffocated on cleaning solution in his downtown Dallas studio.

Garland Wayne Beckham
Genres: Country
Based in:Dallas-Fort Worth
Instrument: country music journalist, publisher, and photographer
Birthplace: Lantham, Kansas Birthdate: 3/21/1929 Deathdate:10/15/2001
Buried at: DFW National Cemetery in Dallas
Garland Wayne Beckham began a publishing career working in the press room of the Daily Oklahoman. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he worked in the press room of t