Texas Music Trail: Amarillo By Morning
Traveling the Texas Music Trail through the Panhandle Plains Region
Traveling through Texas from Lubbock through the Panhandle, you can trace the roots of Country, Folk, Western Swing, Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Americana Music and more.
Download or stream our Spotify playlist, hop in the car and spend a couple of days following along. Don’t forget to check out some great music festivals along the way.
Our first stop is Lubbock's Buddy Holly Center.
Let us know what you’d like to hear next. Remember to caption your social posts with #TexasMusicTrails!
We begin our journey at the Buddy Holly Center, a historical site with dual missions; preserving, collecting and promoting the legacy of Buddy Holly and the music of Lubbock and West Texas, as well as providing exhibits on Contemporary Visual Arts and Music, for the purpose of educating and entertaining the public. The vision of the Buddy Holly Center is to discover art through music by celebrating legacy, culture and community.
Exhibitions and programs reflect the diverse cultural characteristics of the region and encourage interaction between artists and the community. The Center collects, preserves and interprets artifacts relevant to Lubbock's most famous native son, Buddy Holly, as well as to other performing artists and musicians of West Texas.
The West Texas Walk of Fame, featuring the Buddy Holly statue, by sculptor Grant Speed, is located inside the Buddy and Maria Elena Holly Plaza, just west of the Center, on the corner of Crickets Avenue and 19th Street. The Plaza is open to the public dawn to dusk, year round. The West Texas Walk of Fame, and its induction process, are a project of Civic Lubbock, Inc.
The Cactus Theater was opened as a neighborhood movie theater in 1938 and operated as a movie house until 1958. It sat vacant until 1995 when music producer Don Caldwell reopened it as a music venue and live theater. Texans Joe Ely, BJ Thomas, Gary Morris, Jerry Jeff Walker, the Maines Brothers, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Marcia Ball, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eric Johnson, Junior Brown and the Crickets have all performed at the venue.
Located in the Depot District on historic Buddy Holly Ave., the Blue Light features some of the best live Texas country, Texas Rock and Americana and is a great place to catch regional and upcoming talent.
5. La Feria Music & Jewelry
One of Texas’ oldest record stores, opened in 1953, La Feria Records is a Hispanic music retail outlet selling, compact discs, novelty items, t-shirts. In-store and mail order.
6. Stubb’s Memorial
Born in Navasota, Christopher B. “Stubb” Stubblefield’s family moved to Lubbock in the 1930s where he learned to cook while working in local hotels and restaurants. He opened his first Bar-B-Q restaurant, Stubb’s, in 1968. By the 1970s Stubb’s was the center of the local music scene hosting Jesse Taylor, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Robert Cray, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. One of his favorite sayings was “I want to feed the world”. Closing in the mid-1980s, Stubb followed Ely and other musicians to Austin where he served Bar-B-Que at Antone’s nightclub until opening his Austin restaurant.
7. Buddy Holly Gravesite
Charles Hardin Holley (1936–1959) know as Buddy Holly was one of the major figures in early Rock and Roll and Rockabilly. He is often credited with defining the traditional rock band lineup of two guitars, bass and drum and with the evolution of the band as a self-contained unit recording their own songs. He was among the first class of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and continues to be a major influence on popular music.
8. The Palm Room (CLOSED)
The Palm Room opened on September 14, 1956 and hosted local orchestras and appearances from the Barons, Chuck Cabot, Larry Fontaine, Harry James and Tony Douglas. In 1967 the Tropics Club was added and included a year-round indoor pool. A change in ownership in 1971 saw Jimmy and Dorothy Blakley booking county and western swing and appearances from the Sons of the Pioneers, Hank Williams, Sammi Smith, Anne Murray, Ray Price, Bill Anderson, Glen Miller and even Janis Joplin. The venue is closed now, but is available for rental.
9. The Cotton Club (CLOSED)
Originally opened on 50th street in 1938 to host orchestras and big bands, the Cotton Club began booking country and western acts in the 1940s. The venue hosted Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys on a regular basis. In 1955 Lubbock musician Buddy Holly attended a performance by Elvis Presley and met the King of Rock and Roll. The original location burned down in 1958. Musicians Tommy and Charlene Hancock constructed a new version of the club on the Slaton Highway in 1962 and began performing there. Waylon Jennings, the Maines Brothers, Joe Ely and Stevie Ray Vaughan all performed at the venue until it closed in 1982. Since that time it has remained closed but may be available for rental.
10. Ralphs Records
Open since 1979, Ralph's Records, Tapes and CDs is one of the three largest record stores in the state, housing more than one million new and used record and tapes in its large two-story building across from Texas Tech University. Owner Ralph DeWitt grew up in Houston and San Antonio and specializes in Texas music, although his three stores carry music from every genre. If it's ever been on vinyl, Ralph probably has it. We carry all the new releases as well as oldies from the '40s to the '90s. Ralph's has CDs, cassettes, LPs, 45s, t-shirts, posters, sports cards, music and sports memorabilia.
11. Crossroads of Music Archive, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University
In 1999, the 76th Legislature of the State of Texas passed House Concurrent Resolution number 65, designating Lubbock and West Texas as the Music Crossroads of Texas. The West Texas region has produced a copious number of musicians, artists, and entertainers that have had an undeniable influence on music, art, and culture throughout the world. In the spirit of the House Concurrent Resolution 65, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University created the Crossroads of Music Archive. The Crossroads of Music Archive was established in 2002. Since then, the archive has become the official repository of Michael Martin Murphey, the Kerville Folk Festival, the Tommy and Charlene Hancock Family, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, Keith Ferguson, David Box, Texas Shorty, among many others. The archive contains over one-hundred music collections and continues to grow.
You may know "Levelland" from the 1995 song about the city written and recorded by James McMurtry on his Where'd You Hide The Body album, but did you know that every July Levelland is home to South Plains College and their annual Camp Bluegrass? Robert Earl Keen also recorded a version of the song in 1997 on his Picnic album.
Waylon Jennings (1937-2002) was born near Littlefield, and worked as a disc jockey on local radio. After a move to Lubbock, he met Buddy Holly and joined the Crickets for Holly’s final tour. After a move to Nashville, Waylon was signed to RCA Records where his clashes with the establishment led to the Outlaw movement of the 1970’s.
Photos and memorabilia of Jennings are displayed in this the store still operated by his family.
Read more about Waylon Jennings
Listen to Waylon Jennings on Spotify
Just across the New Mexico border, Norman Petty Studios in Clovis was the recording destination for musicians from the Texas Panhandle Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings, Sonny West, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, Charlie Phillips, Jimmy Bowen, and Johnny Duncan all recorded with Petty. Tours of the 1950s era studio are by appointment only through the Chamber of Commerce at (575) 763-3435.
Raised in Plainview, Jimmy Dean (1928-2010) pulled himself from poverty to national prominence as a television entertainer and businessman who started the Jimmy Dean sausage company. The Jimmy Dean museum opened in 2016 and tells the story of his life, including memorabilia, video, records and photos from his personal collection. Dean is best remembered for his 1961 number one single “Big Bad John” and his 1963-1966 variety show which featured not only many country music stars, but also exposed the Muppets to a national audience through Dean’s regular guest Rowlf the dog.
Bob Wills (1905-1975) the “King of Western Swing” was born in Kosse, TX and the family moved to a farm outside Turkey, TX in 1919. Son of a state champion fiddle player, Wills also took up the instrument and the mandolin. He performed with the Light Crust Doughboys and performed on the radio in Fort Worth before forming the Texas Playboys in 1934 and the band made their first recordings in Dallas in 1935. By the 1940s the band enjoyed million selling records, concerts that outdrew Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and a syndicated radio show. He continued to record and tour in the 1950s and 60s, disbanding the Playboys in 1965 after suffering two heart attacks. Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He died at age 70 in 1975, but his legacy remains. Wills was inducted posthumously to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Established by the Wills family, the Bob Wills Museum exhibits many wonderful photographs of Bob's career. Many family mementos, fiddles, clothes, and awards pay tribute to this legend. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 8am-12pm and 1pm-5pm, or by special appointment.
The last Saturday in April transforms the sleepy West Texas town of Turkey into the center of the Western Swing universe with their annual Bob Wills Day.
17. Amarillo Highway
“Amarillo Highway” is the lead track on Terry Allen’s 1979 album “Lubbock (On Everything)”. Recorded in Lubbock, the song mentions several area towns in the first verse “I'm a high straight in Plainview/A side bet in Idalou/An' a fresh deck in New Deal” and concludes “As close as I'll ever get to Heaven/Is makin' speed up old eighty-seven/Of that hard Amarillo Highway”.
AllMusic calls the album “Lubbock (On Everything)” “one of the finest country albums of all time, a progenitor of what would eventually be called alt-country”.
18. Buddy Knox Gravesite
Buddy Wayne Knox (1933-1999) was born near Happy, TX and began playing music in his teens. In college he formed the band the Orchids with Jimmy Bowen, Donald Lanier and Dave Alldred. After a show in Amarillo in 1955, Elvis Presley encouraged the group to record, stating that Rock and Roll was "fixing to happen." Fellow West Texas musician Roy Orbison directed them to Norman Petty Studios. Their first single “Party Doll” was a hit. Knox is said to have coined the term Rockabilly for his style of music. The band’s momentum was slowed when Knox entered the army but his service did afford him a chance to reconnect with Elvis at Fort Hood. Knox continued to record into the 90s and is buried in plot S-18 in Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon, TX.
The museum does not have a permanent music exhibit, but does have music-related items in their archive including Bob Wills’ fiddle and a guitar from Buddy Knox. These items are available by appointment only by calling (806) 651-2254.
20. Terry Stafford Gravesite
Terry Stafford (1941-1996) is best known for the Top 10 hit “Suspicion” and his 1973 recording of “Amarillo By Morning” a song he co-wrote with Paul Fraser. Originally recorded by Elvis Presley, Stafford’s recording of “Suspicion” featured one of the earliest uses of a synthesizer on record. The single rose to number three on the Billboard chart in 1964, kept out of the top spot by the Beatles. “Amarillo By Morning” peaked at number thirty-one on the Billboard Country chart in 1973. Ten years later, George Strait would take it to number four on the same chart. Stafford is buried in Section 1A Lot 60 Space 3 in the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, TX.
Listen to Terry Stafford on Spotify
Located on historic Route 66, Spinning Jenny's House of Music serves as the Texas Panhandle's only record store. We carry new and previously loved vinyl as well as new turntables and speakers. We also have souvenirs including t-shirts, keychains and small leatherwork.
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) is recognized as one of the most significant figures in American music, inspiring generations of musicians. He composed hundreds of songs including folk, blues, children’s, political and protest songs. Born in Okemah, OK, Guthrie followed his father to Pampa, TX in 1929. While in Pampa he formed the Corn Cob Trio and the Pampa Junior Chamber of Commerce, making his first attempt at a musical career. The Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center is housed in the former Harris Drug Store where Guthrie worked at the soda fountain. In his autobiography, he writes that he found his first guitar in the back room of the store. The center is open Tuesday through Friday and hosts a weekly Friday night music series and an Annual tribute to Woody each October.
23. Eck Robertson Gravesite
Alexander Campbell “Eck” Robertson (1887-1975) is commonly credited as producing the first commercially available county music recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1922. Born in Arkansas, his family settled in the Texas Panhandle outside Amarillo. He recorded four fiddle duets with Henry Gilliland on June 30, 1922 and returned the next day to record six additional fiddle tunes including “Sally Gooden”/”Arkansas Traveler” released on September 1, 1922. A musician since the age of 16, Robertson continued to perform and record. He died in 1975 in Borger, TX and is buried at the Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetery where his tombstone reads "World's Champion Fiddler."
24. Cadillac Ranch
This roadside art instillation in Amarillo has inspired songs by both Bruce Springsteen and Chris LeDoux and has been featured in music videos by James Brown, Cage the Elephant and Brooks & Dunn.
25. Tarpley Music
Opened in 1968, by Bill Tarpley, Tarpley Music Company is a full-line musical instrument retail and repair store. Tarpley sells, and repairs pianos, organs, guitars, sound systems, and band instruments. Instruction offered. Specializes in sound system design and installations. Tarpley rents a variety of band instruments on a short- or long-term basis. Tarpley also has a large selection of recording studio equipment. Tarpley Music Company has four locations to serve you. Locations in Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo and Clovis, NM.
26. US Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District
Get your kicks on Route 66. Once known as the Main Street Of America, Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the United States inspiring a hit song recorded by everyone from Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode and Texas’ own Asleep at the Wheel.
The Golden Light Cafe is the oldest restaurant in Amarillo and perhaps the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the same location anywhere on Old Route 66. Golden Light Cantina features live music every weekend as well. Open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
More Texas Music Pioneers from the Panhandle Plains Region
Radie Britain (1899-1994)
Composer from Silverton, TX
Gene Coy (?-1960s)
Jazz drummer and pianist from Amarillo
Eddie Dean (1907-1999)
First Singing Cowboy to star in color films from Posey, TX
Esther Garlinghouse (1901-1982)
Concert pianist from Amarillo, TX
Bobby Keys (1943-2014)
Rolling Stones saxophonist from Slaton, TX
Buck Ramsey (1938-1998)
Cowboy poet and singer from New Home, TX
Billy Walker (1929-2006)
Country singer from Ralls, TX
Don Williams (1939-2017)
Country singer from Floydada, TX