TEXAS COSMIC COWBOY LEGEND GARY P. NUNN
CELEBRATES 70th BIRTHDAY WITH THREE-DAY PARTY DEC. 3-5
Birthday Bash Weekend Hits Billy Bob’s, Floore’s and Redneck Country Club
Gary P. Nunn formed his first band in seventh grade, right after moving from Oklahoma to Texas. In the decades since, Nunn, who blazed trails as one of the original cosmic cowboys, has made a career (not to mention an album title) of “taking Texas to the country.” To celebrate his 70th birthday, the composer of “London Homesick Blues” — which spent nearly three decades as the theme song for PBS-TV’s iconic “Austin City Limits” series — is booting up a Texas-sized party.
Nunn’s birthday-bash weekend starts Thursday, Dec. 3, at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, moves to Floore’s Country Store in Helotes on Friday, Dec. 4 (his actual birthday) and winds up on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, where Nunn and his Bunkhouse Band will share a bill with fellow country legend Charley Pride.
“I never thought my career would last this long and have accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible,” says Nunn, adding, “People are always coming up to me and saying, ‘I’ve been a fan for 30 years, but I’ve never seen you live!’ Well now is the time to see me, before I ride off into the sunset.”
And what a ride it’s been so far. Growing up near Lubbock, Nunn came to Austin in 1967 to study pharmacy at the University of Texas. He started his music career in the Lavender Hill Express, then played bass and keyboards in backing bands for Michael Martin Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. When backing Murphey, the band was called the Cosmic Cowboy Orchestra. Needing a different moniker for Walker’s gigs, they became the Lost Gonzo Band — and made history. Among several albums they recorded with Walker before striking out on their own was the captured-live-at-Luckenbach ¡Viva Terlingua!, which contained the first recorded version of “London Homesick Blues.”
Since going solo in 1980, Nunn started his own label and has recorded more than a dozen albums. His songs also have become hits for others, including Willie Nelson, who reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Hits chart with “The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” and Rosanne Cash, who went to No. 15 with “Couldn’t Do Nothin’ Right.”
Aside from regularly touring throughout Texas and beyond, Nunn still takes fans on yearly trips to Belize, saddles up for his annual trail ride with the Tejas Vaqueros and performs at the World Championship Chili Cookoff in Terlingua. He’s also slated to play the 2016 MusicFest, the big Texas/red dirt celebration held each January in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
His fans willingly follow him to points near and far because, according to Outlaw magazine’s Dave Pilot, he’s the kind of performer who builds a Springsteen-like connection with each one. “That only happens when it’s real; entertainers can’t pull off that feat,” says Pilot. “They can get the masses on their feet, but they can’t really touch their spirits and their souls. Takes an artist for that. Nunn is one of the truest and best.”
That helps explain why Nunn earned a 1985 designation by then-Texas Gov. Mark White as an “official ambassador to the world” and a 2007 appointment as an ambassador of Texas music from former Gov. Rick Perry. But he’s most proud of his inclusion in Lubbock’s West Texas Walk of Fame with heroes Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Bob Wills and Roy Orbison.
Nunn definitely has earned his place among musical legends — not just in Lubbock, or even Texas, but everywhere the Americana genre he helped father can be heard.
Surprisingly, in the latest edition of his newsletter, Nunn confesses, “I never intended to make a life out of music. I always thought I would get a real job someday.”
His legions of fans — and the countless musicians he’s influenced — should be thankful he never did.
Gary P. Nunn’s 70th Birthday Celebration Weekend
Dec. 3 – Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth. Showtime: 9 p.m. For information/tickets: 817.624.7117, billybobstexas.com
Dec. 4 – Floore’s Country Store, Helotes, Texas. Showtime: 9 p.m. For information/tickets: 210.695.8827, liveatfloores.com
Dec. 5 – Redneck Country Club, Stafford, Texas. Showtime: 7 p.m. For information/tickets: 281.809.4867, theredneckcountryclub.com
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