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This Week in Texas Music History: Dean Beard

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, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman introduces us to a West Texas wild man who contributed to both 1950s rockabilly and 1970s pop.

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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Rockabilly pioneer Dean Beard died on April 4, 1989. Born in Santa Anna, Texas, on Aug. 31, 1935, Beard was still a teenager when he befriended a young singer named Elvis Presley, who was touring throughout West Texas in 1955. Inspired by Elvis’s growing popularity, Beard traveled to Sun Records in Memphis to record in 1956. However, Sun Records didn’t sign Beard, so he returned to the Lone Star State. Nicknamed “the West Texas Wild Man,” Dean Beard became popular for his energetic performances and such rocking numbers as “Rakin’ and Scrapin’.”

Although never well-known outside of West Texas, Dean Beard had a strong regional following. He also performed for a while with Texas artists James Seals and Dash Crofts, who went on to form the highly-successful 1970s pop duo Seals and Crofts.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll recall a natural disaster that inspired a folk anthem.