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This Week In Texas Music History: Cotton Club Opens in Lubbock

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 celebrate a country dance hall that helped change rock and roll history.

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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On Nov. 11, 1938, the Cotton Club opened on the outskirts of Lubbock. At first, the owners booked classical music, hoping to draw an upscale crowd. However, they soon realized that most patrons wanted to hear country music. So, the venue began featuring such popular country artists as Tex Ritter and Bob Wills. When rock and roll arrived in Lubbock in the 1950s, the Cotton Club booked Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Soon after attending both shows, a local teenager named Buddy Holly shifted his musical pursuits from country to rock and roll.

In 1958, the Cotton Club burned down. During the 1960s, local musician Tommy Hancock rebuilt the hall. The Cotton Club went on to host such prominent artists as Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Waylon Jennings and Joe Ely before finally closing in 1982.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll have a date with a diva in Dallas.