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 discover a link between Jimmie Rodgers and Janis Joplin.
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 podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Bill Neely was born on Sept. 19, 1916, in Collin County, Texas. At 13, he learned to play guitar from country singing star Jimmie Rodgers. Like Rodgers, Neely was a rambler. In the 1930s and 1940s, he traveled across North America, hitchhiking and riding freight trains. In 1949, he settled in Austin and soon became a regular at Kenneth Threadgill’s gas station and bar on North Lamar Boulevard. Bill Neely and other musicians hung out at Threadgill’s, jamming and entertaining the crowds that gathered.
Because the jam sessions at Threadgill’s attracted a wide variety of musicians, Bill Neely performed over the years alongside such artists as legendary bluesman, Mance Lipscomb, as well as a young college student named Janis Joplin.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet an opera singer who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps.