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Guess the Country Star by Only His Cowboy Hat

You'll ride a black tornado cross't the western skies Rope an ole blue norther, milk it till it's dry Bull dawg the Mississippi, pin it's ears down flat Long before you take this cowboy's hat.

-- Chris Ledoux, "This Cowboy's Hat"

A popular saying in Texas goes that a man who talks a good game but can't back up his line of BS is "all hat, no cattle." It even became a book title thanks to George W. Bush's presidency, but few other areas is it truer than the world of country music.

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Whether he grew up on a South Texas ranch or the South Bronx, seeing a man sing country music while wearing a cowboy hat adds a natural credibility. You could confess your sins to a guy not wearing a Roman collar, but what would be the point?

Of course some of the genre's greatest singers, from George Jones and Conway Twitty all the way through Keith Urban and Jake Owen, have all gone on to stardom totally hatless. Too bad, because they're all pretty-boy wankers. To truly sing God's own music the way He intended, you really should make sure your head is covered - and if you see someone in a fedora onstage at the Firehouse Saloon or Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, run fast and run far.

Western-style hats in country music date back to at least Hank Williams, who often wore a fine Stetson Open Road. Thanks to a few Texans who also knew a good chapeau when they saw one, the term "hat act" entered the musical vernacular in the late '80s and early '90s, until there were so many it became a mild pejorative.

Today the most appropriate nomenclature might be "ballcap act" for young punks like Eric Church and Luke Bryan, and then of course there's Zac Brown's winter-friendly knit cap. But there's still plenty of cowboy hat-wearers out there, including the two big "Brothers of the Sun" who will be at Reliant Stadium Saturday night.

We assume most of our readers know who those are. (Don't forget our deal!) Calling on the expert skills of Houston Press Art Director Monica Fuentes, Rocks Off selected 12 famous hats from country music history to go with these artists, who below are in no other order than alphabetical. Using only their hat, can you guess who it is?

Clint Black Garth Brooks Junior Brown Chris Cagle Kenny Chesney Johnny Lee Tim McGraw Willie Nelson Johnny Paycheck George Strait Bob Wills Dwight Yoakam

Here we go. Our first hat played a "Cherokee Fiddle."

JOHNNY LEE

Our next hat is the youngest artist on our list.

CHRIS CAGLE

Our next hat plays a homemade instrument called a "guit-steel."

JUNIOR BROWN

Our next hat became an L.A. cowboy out of Pikeville, Kentucky.

DWIGHT YOAKAM

Our next hat really was the only hell his mama ever raised.

JOHNNY PAYCHECK

Our next hat should need no introduction.

GEORGE STRAIT

Our next hat...well, even people from New York City ought to get this one.

WILLIE NELSON

Our next hat taught Willie a song or two, like "Faded Love."

BOB WILLS

Some women think our next hat has a sexy tractor.

KENNY CHESNEY

Our next hat once hoped to play two of a kind into a full house.

GARTH BROOKS

Our next hat once claimed to be part Cherokee and Choctaw.

TIM MCGRAW

Our final hat is the pride of Katy, besides the Katy High football team.

CLINT BLACK

If you made it all the way through that, you should have no shoes, no shirt, no problem at Saturday's "Brothers of the Sun" show at Reliant Stadium with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Jake Owen. Show starts at 4:30 p.m.


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