Texas Country Music Legends 1950-1999
The fifties saw significant changes occurring in country music and in American music in general. During the first half of the decade, county music became established farther north and west of its native south and southwest.
The emergence of rock ‘n roll affected the careers of many established stars and beginning country singers. Performers like Ray Price continued to appeal to the long-time country fans. Jim Reeves and Johnny Horton, produced rockabilly and pop-flavored country style recording intending to reach the larger audiences.
Crossover success in the sixties helped pave the way for other country artists with popular appeal like Jimmy Dean, Buck Owens, Roger Miller, and Jeannie C. Riley. Waylon Jennings, Kenny Rogers,and Willie Nelson began to receive national recognition that would make each of them a major international superstar.
During the early seventies, the biggest Texas country hits were performed by Ray Price, Tanya Tucker, Johnny Rodriguez and George Jones. In 1975, there were fifteen records that reached the top of Billboard’s country charts by Texas artists: Freddy Fender, Billie Jo Spears, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. The mass acceptance of Waylon and Willie reflected a national interest in Texas singer/songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Michael Martin Murphey, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Jeff Walker, Don Williams and Larry Gatlin.
In the eighties Texans, Barbara Mandrell and George Strait rapidly rose to the upper levels of country music stardom. George Jones made a spectacular return to the top of the charts. Johnny Lee’s performance in the movie “Urban Cowboy” helped him attain stardom. Country hits continued to chart by established artists in addition to Gene Watson, Dan Seals, Tanya Tucker, Asleep at the Wheel, and the country outlaw supergroup The Highwaymen. The nineties saw the addition of popular Texas country artists including Clint Black, the Dixie Chicks, and LeAnn Rimes, who have joined the ranks of Texas country music legends. By 2025, many of this millennial’s Texas country stars will reach the status of legends, and be spotlighted in our next Country Legends Exhibit!