early 1964, Beatlemania hit the United States "like a tidal wave."
Dazzled by the Fab Four, America's youth went wild. While girls swooned
over John, Paul, George, and Ringo, the lads from Liverpool inspired
boys to grow their hair, learn guitar, and start "garage bands by
the score." The British Invasion had arrived and more English rockers-including
the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Animals, and Herman's Hermits-were
soon on the way, captivating the young denizens of America and Cowtown.
Before long, a vibrant rock and roll youth scene emerged in Fort
Worth, with battles of the bands, concerts, locally televised
bandstands, and teen-a-go-gos (dances) entertaining the city's teenagers.
Focusing on the mid-1960s, Nobles divides this fascinating pictorial
chronicle into nine chapters: The Beatles; Band Beginnings; The Teen
Scenes and Battles of the Bands; Radio, TV, and Records; Big Names
and Touring; The Cellar; Fans; Long Hair and Fashion; and Culture.
"The teen-a-go-go era was a short blip in time," he observes, "and
this is one town's story, in the words and music of the people who
made and loved it."
Nobles mentions such popular Fort
Worth bands as the Barons, the Jades, Larry & the Blue Notes,
Jim Jones and the Chaunteys, the Elite, Those Guys, and the Nomads.
"Fans followed and supported local bands just as ardently as they
did national acts," he contends. Nobles calls this brief period, especially
the years 1966-1967, "a golden age for local music. While few bands
pushed through to national recognition, the quality and quantity of
good music being produced, recorded, and performed in Fort
Worth and North
Texas…was as solid and professional as anywhere else in the country."
Bands that did enjoy national recognition included Kenny and the Kasuals
and the Five Americans, both from Dallas,
and Fort Worth's the
Kandy Kanes, an all-girl group that toured "from coast to coast" in
the summer of 1966 and "had large followings and popular records."
T Bone Burnett, also from Cowtown, became a successful musician and
producer, eventually working with such artists as U2, Willie Nelson,
and B. B. King.
Nobles discusses the wildly popular teen a-go-gos, held in recreation
centers, National Guard armories, skating rinks, and at Will Rogers
Coliseum. Attended by thousands of teenagers, these gatherings helped
curtail juvenile delinquency. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
the city's crime rate "actually dropped on Friday and Saturday nights,
when the a-go-gos were drawing their largest crowds."
Perhaps the most fascinating topic addressed by Nobles is the "notorious"
Fort Worth nightspot,
the Cellar. Opened in the late 1950s, the club operated from 6:00
p.m. to 6:00 a.m., offered nonstop musical entertainment, and featured
"scantily clad waitresses." Such renowned Texas musicians as Johnny
and Edgar Winter, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, Doug Sahm,
and future members of ZZ Top, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, all played
at the Cellar.
This book is not free of errors. For example, the name of a prominent
Fort Worth high school
is misspelled; it is Paschal High, not Pascal High. Still, this is
an extremely impressive effort. Readers interested in Fort
Worth, rock and roll history, and 1960s pop culture will enjoy
Nobles' commendable study. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Note: Nobles also served as producer for Teen-a-Go-Go, a documentary
about the mid-1960s Fort
Worth music scene. Curious to hear songs from this era? Check
out the three-cd set, Fort Worth Teen Scene!
Review by Kirk Bane,
Managing Editor, Central Texas Studies
February 2, 2017