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This Week in Texas Music History: Johnny Dollar

by Stephen Becker 12 Apr 2013 2:00 PM

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a rockabilly singer who always had a dollar to his name.


Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet the crown prince of Dallas fiddlers.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Johnny Dollar died on April 13, 1986. The Creek Indian musician was born in 1933 in Kilgore, Texas. As a young man, Dollar traveled the state working in oil fields and lumberyards. In 1952, he recorded his first country single and joined the famed Louisiana Hayride. By the late 1950s, Dollar was performing mostly rockabilly. He joined the Big D Jamboree in Dallas and collaborated with songwriter Jack Rhodes to make a series of raw, high-energy recordings. Though unreleased until the 1990s, these records captured Dollar’s classic rockabilly sound.

Johnny Dollar moved increasingly into mainstream country music during the 1960s and became a successful Nashville producer. By the mid-1980s, however, Dollar’s struggle with throat cancer finally ended his singing career.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember a band that waltzed into Austin music lore.