Ten the Hard Way: Introducing the Houston Music Hall of Fame

In honor of the 25th Annual Houston Press Music Awards, we present the Houston Music Hall of Fame.

Are there underage punks and teenage girls trying to sneak in or presenting fake I.D.? Most certainly. Does ganja smoke waft through the crowd? What do you think? Will there be a fight? It's a good bet. After all, it's Houston's band. WMS


Early Houston punk rock was very much a boys' club, dominated by the likes of Legionaire's Disease, Really Red and AK-47. Mydolls, though, preferred the sharper angles and pointed sentiments of post-punk groups like Wire and the Raincoats. Besides shunning the battering-ram approach of most drummers in the era's burgeoning hardcore scene — personified in Texas by Austin's Big Boys — Mydolls' rhythms were much more fluid. They were also relatively unusual in that singer Trish Herrera's vocals were always mixed right up front for all to hear. On songs like "Soldiers of a Pure War," she had plenty to say.

Gene Watson
Courtesy Lytle Management Group
Gene Watson

Founded in 1978 by Herrera and Dianna Ray, Mydolls were originally joined by Linda Younger and Herrera's cousin, George Reyes; they quickly became regulars at legendary Houston punk/New Wave club The Island. With a handful of 7-inches and one EP on Heights-based C.I.A. Records, they made influential friends like The Red Krayola's Mayo Thompson and squeaked "Savage Song" onto a 1983 Sub Pop cassette-only compilation. They even appeared in a scene set in a seedy Houston bar near the end of Wim Wenders's 1984 film Paris, Texas, performing the song that much later became the title of a post-breakup career-spanning anthology, "A World of Her Own." Mydolls originally disbanded in 1986.

But only a few months after A World of Her Own was released in 2008, Mydolls reunited for the local Noise and Smoke Festival and stuck around. (Sadly, Ray's wife, Kathy Johnston, who joined the band after the reunion, passed away in September 2011.) These days Mydolls don't play often, but the members have been heavily involved behind the scenes in annual teen camp Girls Rock Camp Houston. Mydolls were one of the highlights of the Island reunion weekend last November, and are scheduled to play at inaugural Austin women-in-music conference MEOW in October.

And who knows after that? Not bad for a band that never even released a full-length ­album. CG



One part super-smooth R&B crooner, one part country zydeco thoroughbred and all rebel, J Paul Jr. has thoroughly modernized the frenetic Creole dance music Clifton Chenier pioneered and perfected in Houston. Born Paul Grant, the Conroe native known these days as "Tha Rebel" has been a musician since childhood, but was raised in the church, and had actually never heard of zydeco until one day he happened to be at a music store and met Step Rideau.

The leader of the Zydeco Outlaws, still one of southeast Texas's most popular zydeco bands, auditoned the young drummer and hired him on the spot. After three years as an Outlaw, J. Paul started the Nubreeds in 1994, and began blending hip-hop into the group's sound. That action caused some older purists to turn up their noses, but won the Nubreeds hordes of younger fans — including Houston rapper Slim Thug, who guested on "We Run This" and "Welcome 2 Da Trap."

Along with the silkier "Love in the Stable," those songs helped the Nubreeds' latest CD, 2011's Rebel IV Life, clean up at the 2012 Zydeco Music Awards. J. Paul routinely clocks numbers in the hundreds of thousands for his YouTube videos, astronomical for a zydeco act — but not, perhaps, for someone known in the zydeco world as "the man who changed the game."

Just as prolific in concert as on record, with Rebel IV Life marking their 11th CD-length ­recording, the Nubreeds are now one of the top draws on the Texas and Louisiana trail-ride circuit and draw thousands of people to remote Louisiana spots like Opelousas and Ville Platte. They're just as popular at Houston establishments like Fifth Ward's Mr. A's Club and Clayton's Club in Greenspoint, where the Nubreeds blow it out every Tuesday night without fail. CG


At 75, Joe Sample is a Houston legend, but a hard-working one. Fifty years on from departing Houston for L.A. and 40 years on from the Crusaders' groundbreaking jazz-funk album Pass the Plate, Sample is still touring the world, much in demand as a keyboardist and composer. His most recent travels have taken him to Montreux, Switzerland, and concert halls across Italy.

Sample moved back to the Clear Lake area ten years ago, and now spends most of his time at home working as artist in residence at his alma mater, Texas Southern University. There, he fronts the Joe Sample Select Orchestra and works on special projects as well as performing with his small ensemble, the Creole Joe Band, which includes such luminaries as C.J. Chenier and Ray Parker Jr.

The lifelong musician took up piano at age five, studying under renowned classical pianist Curtis Mayo. By the time he was in high school, Sample had formed the Swingsters, predecessors of the Jazz Crusaders, with fellow Wheatley High School students Stix Hooper and Wilton Felder. Also while still in high school, Sample augmented his experience and his wallet by working on the road with master song stylist Ivory Joe Hunter.

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Gene is a favorite of mine and has been for over 40 years..  he has a voice that I can listen to all day and never tire of it.  just wish I could see more of him.  I plan on being in Brenham next week.


Billy Joe "B. J." Thomas


So is there going to be a physical hall of fame or just a virtual one?


Y'all must have been hurried? Or worse? How on earth did y'all miss Johnny Guitar Watson, and please- Chris Whitley? Let's face it, there are lots of great and talented musicians from H-Town... But to forget roots....



Well if the Houston Press is creating a Houston Hall of Fame, they should have correct information of those that are being inducted.   La Mafia was formed in 1980, not 1986.  There are albums that were released from 1980.  Please contact them if you want to double check.


johnny guitar watson

gold star studios

roy head

lightnin' hopkins

pain teens

rap-a-lot records

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