Austin Music Memorial

The Austin Music Memorial honors individuals who made important contributions to the development of music in the Austin music community. A personalized engraved disc for each inductee is placed on the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts "City Terrace" overlooking Lady Bird Lake. The Long Center terrace is open to the public 24 hours a day.

The first 10 inductees of the Austin Music Memorial were honored as part of the grand opening of the Long Center on March 30, 2008. For more information about the program and nomination process, please contact Vincent Kitch at (512) 974-9310.

Location:

Austin Music Memorial
The Long Center for the Performing Arts
701 W. Riverside Drive
Austin, TX 78704




Elmer Akins (1911-1998)
In the early 1940s, Akins began singing in choirs and quartets, including the Royal Gospel Quartet, and hosting gospel programs at KNOW radio. He also founded the Austin Quartet Association to promote local gospel music. In 1947, Akins convinced the KVET radio station to sell him a fifteen minute slot on Sunday morning; the success of this show earned Akins a twelve week contract. His show, “Gospel Train,” eventually expanded to ninety minutes and Akins continued to broadcast on KVET for 51 years, making his the longest running gospel music radio program in the United States. Throughout the subsequent decades, Akins remained a popular radio announcer, tireless promoter of gospel music, and an active member of charity and aid societies.
Inducted in 2009

Clifford Antone (1949-2006)
Antone was the owner of the legendary Antone's blues club and record label. He is credited with launching the careers of many local blues and rock musicians and his club remains at the heart of the Austin music scene.
Inducted in 2010

Martin Banks (1936-2004)
Trumpeter Banks played with many of the jazz greats of the 1950s and 60s, touring from California to New York. He returned to Austin in the 80s where he continued to perform and promote music appreciation with several nonprofit music programs.
Inducted in 2010

T.D. Bell (1922-1999)
Along with Roosevelt Williams and Erbie Bowser,T.D. Bell was known as a godfather of the Austin blues scene. However, Bell first made his mark playing blues guitar around Rockdale, Texas and in the nearby communities of Elgin, Bryan, and Temple. He was lured to Austin in 1949, by Johnny Holmes with the promise of a regular gig at Holmes’s Victory Grill. “Little T-Bone,” so called because of his take on T-Bone Walker’s guitar style, played with The Cadillacs at Victory Grill during its 1950s heyday. Bell remained a staple of the East Austin music scene for two decades and helped make the area a blues hotbed.
Inducted in 2009

Carl William Besserer (1851- 1931)
Besserer was an early pioneer of Austin music. A talented pianist, he founded one of Austin's first bands, which became celebrated state-wide and played for governor's inaugurations and presidential visits. In 1879 he co-founded the Austin Saengerrunde (singing society) for German songs.
Inducted in 2008

Erbie Bowser (1918-1995)
Blues pianist Bowser was a regular on Austin's club scene in the 1950s and 60s where he formed musical partnerships with several other local legends. He reemerged in the 80s to record an internationally acclaimed album, and to perform as one of the Texas Piano Professors.
Inducted in 2008

Liliado "Lalo" Campos (1924-2004)
A broadcaster and music promoter, Campos was the first person to host a Latino radio show in Austin. His popular show, Noche de Fiesta, ran for 25 years and gave exposure to many local Latino musicians.
Inducted in 2010

Camilo Cantu (1907-1998)
Camilo Cantu was born in 1907 in Hidalgo, Mexico. He immigrated to Texas at a young age, reaching Austin as a teenager. It was in Austin where he first heard Leopoldo Guajardo play the two-row button accordion and the boy promptly switched from the keyboard accordion to this style. Cantu developed a distinct, full sound due to the unique way he tuned his instrument. Unfortunately, he was never recorded; however, those who were lucky enough to hear Cantu perform say he was the best accordion player in Central Texas during the '40s and '50s. For many years he drew crowds on Saturday nights at La Polkita in Del Valle. When he ventured to other parts of Texas, he earned the name “El Azote de Austin” (The Scourge of Austin) simply by being the best around. After retiring from performance in the 1963, Cantu opened an accordion repair shop in his home in South Austin.
Inducted in 2009

Damita Jo DeBlanc Wood (1930-1998)
The dynamic singer "Damita Jo" first appeared on the pop charts with two R&B “answer songs,” “I’ll Save the Last Dance for You” in 1960, and “I’ll Be There” in 1961. “Love’s a Ball,” her duet with Billy Eckstine, reached #1 in Australia. She had another minor hit with “If You Go Away” by Jacques Brel. In the late 1970s, Damita Jo appeared regularly on Redd Foxx’s television variety show and toured with his revue. She also performed extensively in Atlantic City, appearing with stars such as Ray Charles, Count Basie, and Joey Bishop. In 1983, she wrote a song entitled “The Color of Your Skin Makes No Difference” which was used by the public school system of Baltimore, Maryland, where she resided for many years until her death on December 25, 1998.
Inducted in 2009

Virgie Carrington DeWitty (1913-1980)
Mrs. Dewitty composed many anthems, spirituals and gospel songs over her lifetime, including the Anderson High School song. She directed the choir of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for more than 60 years and was the first African American choir director to have a commercial radio program in Texas.
Inducted in 2008

McKinley “Kenny” Dorham (1924-1972)
Mr. Dorham was one of Austin's greatest Jazz musicians during the 1940s and 1950s and had an extensive recording career. Raised in Austin's public school system, he would later become the first African American instructor at the Julliard School of Music.
Inducted in 2008

Rev. Albert L. “Lavada” Durst (1913-1995)
Known as “Dr. Hep Cat,” he was the first African American disc jockey in Texas and was an instant hit in Austin with his cool “Hep Talk.” In 1978, Wax magazine gave Durst credit for being among the inventors of rock 'n' roll radio. He introduced Austin listeners to jazz, blues and R&B and brought many major African American entertainers to Austin’s Dorris Miller Auditorium. He was also a barrelhouse pianist and singer and performed at numerous blues and folk festivals.
Inducted in 2008

Michael David Fuller (1949-1989)
Michael David Fuller was born in Arkansas on December 18, 1949. His first foray into music was as a member of the Singing Fuller Family, a gospel group including his mother and siblings. However, his interest in music extended beyond gospel and as a teenager he began writing country songs on his guitar. He developed a style of finger-picking which made it seem as if the guitar was singing along with him. After adopting the name “Blaze Foley,” he settled in Austin (for the second time) in 1980. He wrote more than 60 songs and his music told the story of his life. His signature song, “If I Could Only Fly,” has been recorded by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Joe Nichols while other Foley compositions have been recorded by Lyle Lovett and John Prine. Unfortunately, Foley himself did not release an album and he only became widely known after his death. Several tribute albums of Foley’s songs have been made and songs have been written in his honor by Lucinda Williams and Townes Van Zandt. Foley is remembered as much for his music as for his out-sized personality, heart of gold, and support of the underdog.
Inducted in 2009

Longino “Lonnie” Guerrero (1917-1994)
Longino “Lonnie” Guerrero was born June 21, 1917 in Manor, Texas and moved to Austin at a young age. He was a self-taught musician, learning to read and compose music, as well as to play various instruments; however, most of his work was done on the acoustic guitar. Guerrero was known as the “Composer of Corridos” because of his outstanding efforts in this style of folk music. Corridos depict true-life events, for example Guerrero’s “La Tragedia del Presidente Kennedy,” from 1965, was about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Guerrero began his career in music by traveling throughout Texas as a troubadour in the 1930s. After serving with the Army Air Force during World War II, Guerrero returned to Austin to work for the City of Austin and later the East Austin Chicano Economic Development Corporation. Throughout his life, he continued to perform and compose music. His music has been recorded by many popular artists including Little Joe y La Familia, Isidro Lopez, and Manuel Donley (Guerrero’s nephew); and his accomplishments have inspired countless more Tejano musicians. Guerrero’s son Louie followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a respected musician in his own right. Guerrero’s dedication to the traditions of Mexican culture has preserved a musical heritage for future generations.
Inducted in 2009

Luis "Louie" Guerrero (1937-2006)
A native Austinite, "Louie" was a multi-instrumentalist and second-generation composer. He performed frequently in east Austin restaurants accompanying himself on his signature bass & electric guitar combo..
Inducted in 2010

Ignacio “Nash” Hernandez Sr. (1922-1994)
After serving as a bugler for the Army Air Corp during World War II, Hernandez entered the Austin music scene by first playing with the Latineers. He gave music lessons to children in his East Austin neighborhood with which he formed his own band in 1949. His orchestra band is still playing to this day, led by his youngest son, Ruben. His greatest legacy lies in the younger Austin musicians he influenced for many of them went on to form their own bands.
Inducted in 2008

Johnny Holmes (1917-2001)
Holmes was well-known as a music promoter, restaurateur, and founder of the historic blues and jazz spot, Victory Grill. His popular juke joint was a staple on the "Chitlin Circuit" in the 1950s and continues to attract national and local talent.
Inducted in 2010

Janis Joplin (1943-1970)
One of the first female superstars of rock and roll, Joplin began her music career in Austin as a student at the University of Texas. While performing at local venues such as Threadgill's she cultivated her signature bluesy, gravel-voiced sound before leaving for San Francisco where she achieved international acclaim.
Inducted in 2010

Roy Montelongo (1938-2001)
An original member of “The Legends” of Tejano music, his unique singing style and accomplishments as a saxophonist and arranger brought him much acclaim. He had a lengthy career in broadcasting over Austin’s airwaves.
Inducted in 2008

Bill Neely (1916-1990)
Neely always contended that he received his first guitar lesson, at the age of 13, from country music legend Jimmie Rodgers. It was Rodgers who would be Neely’s biggest influence as he began to craft his own finger-picking style. After completing his service in the Army and marrying his wife Bobbie, Neely settled in Austin in 1949. He soon met Kenneth Threadgill and began performing at Threadgill’s gas station on North Lamar Boulevard. Neely continued to perform there as it transformed into a popular eatery and music venue. He often shared his Wednesday night gigs at Threadgill’s with fellow guitarist Larry Kirbo; the two men also played together in Washington, D.C., in programs sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. He recorded one album, Blackland Farm Boy, which was released in 1974 on Arhoolie Records and later reissued. Neely was a staple of the Austin music scene for nearly 40 years, performing with groups and solo, penning many original songs, and influencing countless younger artists along the way.
Inducted in 2009

Tary Owens (1942-2003)
Intimately involved in the Austin music scene since the 1960s, Mr. Owens was a kind of “Renaissance Man” from songwriter to record and film producer, manager, band leader, musician, promoter and historian. His greatest gift to the community was the preservation of music.
Inducted in 2008

Americo Parades (1915-1999)
Paredes is recognized as one of the seminal Mexican American scholars of the twentieth century for his studies of corridos, folkloric ballads, machismo and border stereotypes. He had a long academic career at the University of Texas at Austin and helped found the Center for Intercultural Studies of Folklore and Ethnomusicology in 1967.
Inducted in 2008

Gene Ramey (1913-1984)
Ramey discovered his signature instrument, the string bass, after moving to Kansas City in 1932. He learned to play from the famous Kansas City bassist Walter Page and soon Ramey was leading his own bands and helping to shape the “Kansas City Sound.” During the 1930s, he performed with several jazz bands including the Jay McShann Orchestra which featured Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. After moving to New York in the 40s, Ramey performed with many of the era’s most prominent jazz, swing, and bebop musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lester Young. In 1976, Ramey returned to Austin and announced his retirement from music; however, it wasn’t long before he was mentoring younger musicians, promoting local jazz music, and performing live with the Gene Ramey Band. Ramey served as a father figure for the Austin jazz community, giving it international credibility due to his notable career.
Inducted in 2009

Doug Sahm (1941-1999)
A musical prodigy, at age 13, after some success playing in local bar bands, his first record was released. Doug had been mixing rockabilly, country and western swing with rhythm and blues for several years when the Beatles and other British groups began to dominate the pop charts. Realizing the potential for a wider audience, Doug and veteran producer Huey Meaux formed the Sir Douglas Quintet. By 1973, Doug had released seven albums on Tribe, Smash, Philips, and Mercury Records. Always popular overseas, Doug released albums during the eighties in England, France and Canada in addition to his American releases. In 1990, the Texas Tornadoes surfaced as a new collaboration between Doug and three of his musical contemporaries, Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez, and Augie Meyers. Their self–titled album proved successful and two more albums followed as the band’s mix of rock, pop, country, conjunto, rhythm & blues, oldies and ballads became a potent advertisement for the diversity of Texas music and the wide-ranging talents and tastes of the four legendary Texas performers.
Inducted in 2008

Robert Shaw (1908-1985)
The Shaws owned a grand piano and provided music lessons for their daughters; however, Robert Shaw was not allowed to play and instead he worked in the family’s cattle and hog business. Shaw yearned to play jazz music on the piano and as soon as he was able to pay for it himself, he sought out piano lessons. Shaw acquired his unique style while playing with other musicians in the Fourth Ward of Houston, the black entertainment district of that city. “Barrelhouse” piano, as played by Shaw, incorporated ragtime elements, such as syncopation, and a heavy hard-hitting touch with fast release. In the 1920s, Shaw joined the “Santa Fe Circuit” of musicians who rode the Santa Fe freight trains to gigs; he played as far north as Chicago, but spent most of his time in Texas. In the early '30s, he settled in Austin and opened a grocery store on the east side of town. For the next several decades, Shaw ran his business with his wife Martha and played music only privately. He was named Austin’s black businessman of the year in 1962. He returned to public musical performance in 1967, this time as one of the few surviving barrelhouse blues pianists of his time. He played often in Austin and had recurring engagements at the Kerrville Folk Festival for over a decade. He also performed at folk and jazz festivals all over the world, including the Berlin Jazz Festival and the World’s Fair Expo in Canada. He is known to have recorded one album, Texas Barrelhouse Piano, which was later reissued by Arhoolie Records.
Inducted in 2009

C.B. Stubblefield (1931-1995)
In 1968, Christopher B. "Stubbs" Stubblefield, Sr. opened the original 75 seat Stubb's Bar-B-Q Restaurant. Stubb's soon became the heart of an explosive music scene and was ground zero for musicians like Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Other famous musicians who would "play for their supper" included Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Robert Cray, George Thorogood, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Linda Rondstadt and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Stubb's Bar-B-Q drew a diverse crowd until 1984, when the restaurateur ran into financial problems, shut down his East Broadway location, and followed his West Texas friends to Austin. There he served barbecue at the blues club, Antone's, before opening his own barbecue and live-music place at 4001 Interstate 35 North in 1986. The Austin location became a beloved and popular spot known for its Sunday blues jam, where anyone was welcome to get up and jam for a spell. In 1989 Stubb closed the Austin location. Later, with business partners, he started to market his sauce and other products, which are now sold nationwide through Stubb's Legendary Kitchen in Austin. On May 27, 1995, the day of his death, Stubb's partners bought the historic building at 801 Red River Street in Austin to continue his barbecue and live music tradition.
Inducted in 2009

Kenneth Threadgill (1909-1987)
Threadgill turned his gas station into a tavern which eventually became a hot spot for local musicians and those just traveling through. Threadgill's continues to be one of Austin's best known venues and is still regarded as a cultural touchstone for the city.
Inducted in 2010

Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997)
Singer-songwriter Van Zandt resided in Austin during the 1970s and 80s, helping to shape the reputation of Austin's country music scene. His songwriting remains internationally revered and his songs have been performed by many music greats.
Inducted in 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990)
A local legend, Vaughan achieved great success as a virtuoso blues guitarist in the 1980s. He also served as a musical ambassador for Austin, bringing worldwide attention to the city's diverse music scene.
Inducted in 2010

Roosevelt “Grey Ghost” Williams (1903 – 1996)
Roosevelt T. Williams was born in Bastrop, Texas on December 7, 1903. He attended public school in Taylor and he learned to play piano by ear, practicing at the home of a friend. He was inspired by local piano players and from records. In addition to straight–ahead blues, he performed waltzes, hillbilly, and boogie woogie “blues at hi–temperature.” He also sang, and imitated popular performers of the time. In the late thirties, he was living in Navasota, where he was recorded by folklorist William A. Owens, who devoted 10 pages of his well–known book Tell Me a Story—Sing Me a Song, to Williams’ music. Williams earned the nickname “Grey Ghost,” apparently due to his disconcerting habit of suddenly appearing at gigs, then abruptly disappearing after playing. During the 75 year span of his career, Williams was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame, and was a featured performer at the New Orleans Jazz and Chicago Blues festivals; he also appeared in the films The Hot Spot and Shady Grove. Finally, in the late 1980s Grey Ghost appeared on two albums released by Catfish Records.
Inducted in 2008