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Houston's Best Gifts To The Music World

Ed. Note: Rocks Off is still in a holiday frame of mind... actually we meant to post this before Christmas, but they're just as true now. No refunds, no exchanges.

Here is Craig's Hlist point of view: Houston has given so much to the world, from ZZ Top, Jandek, Beyonce Knowles, and everything in between, that we think we maybe deserve a few gifts ourselves. Maybe well-behaved audiences, cheaper beer at bigger venues, fewer tours skipping us for Austin, and maybe a few decent radio stations. That's all. And super-lax pot laws.

But we might as well be asking for the moon now. But wait, we helped get all of you to the moon itself. Or at least watch the moon landing on TV.

Houston's contributions to the music world are legion. We have had some stellar brains running around this city, from rappers to metalheads, to folkies and impresarios. We can't forget ecstasy, the Astrodome, breast implants, and Hilary Duff either. No telling how many musicians have benefited from boob jobs.

Here is just some of the things we Houstonians can claim as our own. You know, Blue October was born here too, if that matters. If you call smoke and mirrors, weirdness, general evasion and lead singer Justin Furstenfeld's voice a gift, then add that to the list.

ZZ Top

You thought you knew what a beard was until this trio came slithering out of our fair city, smelling of blues, tacos, whiskey, and reefer.

DJ Screw & Drank

Iffffff itttttt weeeeeren't.......forrrrrr cooooooodeiiiine sirrrrrrrup yoooooo woooooould stiiiilllll beeee lissssstening toooooo muuuuusiccccc attttt aaaa reeeeeeguuuulaaar speeeeed.


Don Walsh, Richard Ramirez, Beau Beasley, Culturcide, Indian Jewelry, you take your pick. Houston does noise right.

International Artists

This defunct local label, started in 1965 and now gone since 1970, put out albums by the Red Krayola, 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, and Lightnin' Hopkins, backed by former Elevators members. This site has an excellent history of the label and its recordings as well.

SugarHill Studios

SugarHill Studios was the birth of some of the most iconic Texas recordings ever. Stuff from Lightnin' Hopkins, Freddy Fender, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Destiny's Child came from here. A cast of touring superstars came through and laid down tracks as well for albums while they were on the road. If only we knew what the Stones were working on out there...


Where else can you see men ride bulls, watch children get bucked off sheep, and then see Justin Bieber? RodeoHouston, that's where. With a side of deep-fried Oreos and a sausage on a stick that will make your wife hate you.

Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe

Wrecks Bell's Old Quarter is a singer-songwriter's paradise. People from icons like Townes Van Zandt to modern-day troubadours like Hayes Carll have graced its doors, in the old downtown location and the current one in near the Strand in Galveston. If you go, be sure to take a gander at the Townes wall.


We gave a John Travolta another iconic movie role, the world a kick-ass country-rock soundtrack, and a forever warped sense of Houston. It's mostly a win, right?

Lightnin' Hopkins

Everyone covers Hopkins now, and he is a part of that great pantheon of bluesmen that helped create rock and roll. Hell, we even gave him a historical marker this year.


Deadhorse remains Houston's best entry into metal history, and their shadow still lingers. You can still see die-hards around town sporting faded shirts and faded DH tattoos.

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Houston gave birth to Destiny's Child, which in turn gave us Beyonce Knowles. Without her, we weep for the piece that Jay-Z would be dating instead. Hopefully not a Pussycat Doll.

Win Butler's Angst

Young Win Butler, future Arcade Fire frontman, lived in the Woodlands early in life. Without the soul-crushing environment in that planned community up north, we wouldn't have this year's The Suburbs.

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