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Five guitar legends and their Dallas roots

John Ozelius

Dallas is a city with a deep musical heritage. Visitors to Dallas find a rich cross section of musical styles to enjoy from Texas country to the blues to heavy metal. This great American city is also a stomping ground several pioneers and legends of the guitar. Several of the greatest rock and blues guitar players in history have called Dallas home.

Among the most famous Dallas born musicians are the legendary Vaughan brothers. Stevie Ray and Jimmy Lee Vaughan were born and raised in Oak Cliff, a section of South Dallas. These two eventually moved to Austin and went on to contribute tremendously to the blues revival that washed over the country in the 1980’s.

Many people have heard the name Freddie King, but some are not familiar with his music. Nicknamed the Texas Cannonball, Freddie was born in Gilmer Texas. He moved to Chicago and found fame as a young blues firebrand. However, life in Chicago proved to be too frenetic and he moved with his wife and children to Dallas in 1963. Freddie continued to be successful and lived and worked out of Dallas until his death in 1976.

One Dallas born guitar player often forgotten is Steven Stills. Born at Parkland Hospital in 1945, Stills was from a military family and grew up in various places including Florida, Louisiana and the Panana Canal Zone. Although he isn’t known for his blues or country, Stills has serious chops that rival the best players in those catagories. He also exhibits a southern vocal inflection that reflects his beginnings in Dallas.

Robert Johnson, the father of the blues was not born in Texas, but he did record his most famous records in a building at 508 Park Ave in Dallas. A recent article in the Dallas Morning News discussed how the building was being considered for demolition. Johnson died in 1938 before his career got too far, but his recordings laid down so long ago in downtown Dallas provided the jet fuel which launched a thousand guitar stars.


  • Peter 5 years ago

    I found it also interesting that these artists come from a wide range of dates. It says a lot that a city can maintain its influence on so many notable musicians. Good writing, I liked the article

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