Rock music is a large type of popular music that started as “rock and roll” in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After the mid-1960s, it changed into many styles, mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is usually described as “music with a strong beat.”
Texas boasts one of the most illustrious musical histories in the country. It’s no wonder that the state has produced some of the best rock bands. Some are well-known local bands that began performing in local taverns and some others are internationally recognized bands that have significantly impacted the rock music genre. The following is a list of Texas’ most famous rock bands.
ZZ Top is a Houston, Texas-based American rock band established in 1969. It was led by vocalist-guitarist Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard, and bassist-vocalist Dusty Hill for 51 years until Hill’s death in 2021. ZZ Top created a signature sound based on Gibbons’ blues guitar technique and the rhythm combination of Hill and Beard. They are well-known for their live performances, clever and witty lyrics, and Gibbons and Hill’s matching outfits, including sunglasses, hats, and long beards.
By the mid-1970s, ZZ Top had become well-known in North America for its live performances, particularly the critically and commercially successful Worldwide Texas Tour (1976-1977). ZZ Top has released 15 studio albums and is estimated to have sold 50 million copies globally. They have won three MTV Video Music Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone named Gibbons the 32nd greatest guitarist of all time in 2015. The band members have sponsored causes and charities such as Childline, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Delta Blues Museum’s fundraiser.
Pantera is a band from Arlington, Texas, USA, that plays heavy metal. The band was formed in 1981 and now comprises vocalist Phil Anselmo, bassist Rex Brown, and touring musicians Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante. The Abbott brothers (drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell) were the group’s most well-known lineup, along with Brown and Anselmo, who joined in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Pantera, along with Testament, Sepultura, and Machine Head, are credited with being part of the second wave of thrash metal from the late 1980s to the early to mid-1990s. They also created groove metal and made it popular.
Pantera is widely recognized as one of history’s most popular and influential heavy metal bands, having sold over 20 million records worldwide and receiving four Grammy nominations.
Buddy Holly, an American singer and songwriter, started the rock and roll band The Crickets in Lubbock, Texas, in January 1957. “That’ll Be the Day,” their first hit single, was released in May 1957 and peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart on September 16, 1957. The “Chirping“, Crickets’ first album cover shows the band members at the time: Buddy Holly on lead vocals and lead guitar, Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar, Jerry Allison on drums, and Joe B. Mauldin on bass. With Holly’s death in 1959, the band continued to tour and record through the 1960s and into the 21st century with different band members.
The Crickets published The Crickets and Their Buddies in 2004. The Crickets were admitted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 28, 2008. In 2011, Allison was still touring with Sonny Curtis on vocals and guitar. The Crickets were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012.
On February 6, 2016, “The Crickets & Buddies” performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Holly had previously performed. Sonny Curtis, Glen D. Hardin, Albert Lee, Tommy Allsup, Gordon Payne, and others from earlier lineups appeared. Allison declared after the show that it was the group’s final performance.
Spoon is an Austin, Texas-based American rock band comprised of Britt Daniel (vocals, guitar), Jim Eno (drums), Alex Fischel (keyboards, guitar), Gerardo Larios (guitar, keyboards), and Ben Trokan (bass, keyboards). Daniel and Eno founded the band in October 1993 in Austin. The band’s musical style has been classified as “rock” by critics.
Spoon’s debut studio album, Telephono, was released in 1996 by Matador Records. Elektra Records published its next full-length album, A Sequence of Sneaks, in 1998. After signing with Merge Records, Spoon rose to commercial and critical fame with the albums Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill the Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007), and Transference (2008). (2010). They agreed to release They Want My Soul on Loma Vista Records and ANTI- (2014). Afterwards, the band returned to Matador for the release of their ninth album, Hot Thoughts (2017), and their tenth album, Lucifer on the Sofa (2022).
American rock group Fastball was founded in 1992 in Austin, Texas. The band changed its name from Magneto U.S.A. to its current moniker, soon after signing contract with Hollywood Records, Six months after its release in 1998, their album All the Pain Money Can Buy achieved platinum sales and spent a year on the Billboard 200 chart. On Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs list, their singles The Way and Out of My Head peaked at #1 and #14, respectively.
The group has also been nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for The Way and Best Long Form Music Video for their music video for The Way. The Austin Chronicle also gave them five awards: Best Pop Band in 1995, Album of the Year, Best Video, Best Single/EP, and Band of the Year in 1998.
Fastball launched a Patreon campaign in the latter half of 2021, where they share new music, song demos, and the backstories of their songs. On June 17, 2022, Fastball digitally released The Deep End, their eighth album.
The Old 97’s is one of the famous American rock band from Dallas, Texas. After the band was formed, they put out twelve studio albums, split the work on another, and made two full-length extended plays and one live album. Their most recent album is called Twelfth.
They were pioneers of the alt-country genre in the mid-to-late 1990s before transitioning to a more power pop sound in the 2000s. Rhett Miller, the band’s lead singer and main songwriter, has called their style “loud folk.” The band’s name refers to the Wreck of the Old 97.
Butthole Surfers is an American rock band founded in 1981 by singer Gibby Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary in San Antonio, Texas. Despite multiple personnel changes, the band’s basic configuration of Haynes, Leary, and drummer King Coffey has been steady since 1983. Teresa Nervosa was the second drummer from 1983 to 1985, 1986 to 1989, and again in 2009. The band has also had a number of bassists, with Jeff Pinkus being the most well-known.
Butthole Surfers rose to prominence in the 1980s hardcore punk scene with their chaotic live shows, black humor, and music that included elements of psychedelia, noise rock, and punk, as well as their use of sound modification and tape editing.
Butthole Surfers had little commercial success until 1996’s Electriclarryland, despite their peers’ esteem and a devoted fanbase. The album’s popular single Pepper reached number one on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks list that year.
Toadies is an American rock band from Fort Worth, Texas, best known for their song Possum Kingdom, released in 1989. Vaden Todd Lewis (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Lisa Umbarger (bass guitar), Darrel Herbert (lead guitar), and Mark Reznicek (drums) comprised the band’s classic lineup.
It was founded in 1989 and disbanded in 2001 after Umbarger left. In 2008, the band reunited and released the album No Deliverance. They re-released Feeler with Kirtland Records in 2010 (Interscope had denied the album’s original release in 1997). The band’s last album, The Lower Side of Uptown, came out in September 2017.
Drowning Pool is a 1996 American rock band from Dallas, Texas. The band’s name was inspired by the 1975 film The Drowning Pool. Since its inception, the band has consisted of guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton, drummer Mike Luce, and a rotating cast of vocalists, the most recent of whom was Jasen Moreno.
After the release of their debut album, Sinner (2001), original vocalist Dave Williams died of heart illness on August 14, 2002. Jason Jones, who took over for Williams in 2003, released one album, Desensitized (2004), before leaving in 2005 owing to artistic differences. Ryan McCombs of the Chicago-based band SOiL later replaced Jones and released two albums, Full Circle (2007) and Drowning Pool (2010), marking the first time Drowning Pool did not change singers after only one album. On the other hand, McCombs quit the band in 2011 to rejoin SOiL. McCombs’ replacement, Jasen Moreno, was revealed in 2012, and the band has since released three albums with him: Resilience (2013), Hellelujah (2016), and Strike a Nerve (2022). Moreno is the band’s first lead singer to appear on three albums.
MDC (Millions of Dead Cops)
MDC is an American punk rock band that started in Austin, Texas, in 1979. Since then, the group has moved to San Francisco and is now based in Portland, Oregon. MDC was one of the first bands to define the sound and style of American hardcore punk, originally formed as The Stains; the meaning of “MDC” has changed several times, the most recent being Millions of Dead Cops. The lyrical substance of the band conveys radical left political beliefs and has proven popular among the punk subculture.
MDC’s material was distributed by ex-Dead Kennedys vocalist Jello Biafra’s independent label Alternative Tentacles. Vocalist Dave Dictor wrote editorials for the internationally distributed fanzine Maximumrocknroll in the 1990s. MDC’s first run ended in 1995, and the band went on hiatus for five years before returning in 2000 with some new band members.
The Sword was an Austin, Texas-based heavy metal band. Throughout its existence, the band has consisted of John D. Cronise (vocalist and guitarist), Kyle Shutt (guitarist), Bryan Richie ( bassist), and Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III (drummer). Formerly signed to Kemado Records, the band released its debut album, Age of Winters in 2006, the majority of which was composed before the band’s inception by Cronise (who also produced the record). Gods of the Earth (also produced by the band’s leader) was released two years later and became the band’s first entry on the US Billboard 200 chart, peaking at number 102.
Warp Riders, a concept album with a science fiction story written mainly by Cronise, came out in 2010. It was the first time the band worked with an outside producer, Matt Bayles. Trivett Wingo, the band’s original drummer, left later in the year and was briefly replaced by Kevin Fender before Vela joined in late 2011. After signing with Razor & Tie in early 2012, the band released its fourth album, Apocryphon, which was marketed globally on the Apocryphon Tour. The band’s fifth studio album, High Country, came out in August 2015. Their sixth, Used Future, came out in March 2018. The Sword ceased operations in October 2022.
Throughout its early years, the Sword was generally classified as a doom metal band, with members citing bands such as Black Sabbath and Sleep as influences. In recent years, the group’s style has been categorized as hard rock or stoner rock. Since its inception, The Sword has performed alongside a diverse range of fellow rock and metal artists, including Metallica, Lamb of God, and Clutch, and has recently headlined its tours.
Joshua Havens and Matt Fuqua established The Afters, an American Christian pop rock band. Havens and Fuqua met in a Starbucks in Mesquite, Texas, where they performed songs for customers before creating a band. They were initially joined by Brad Wigg, also from the same Starbucks, and drummer Michael Burden, and performed as Blisse. Marc Dodd from the Mesquite Starbucks came in when Burden left the band. Their song “Never Going Back to OK” had the most number of plays on R&R magazine’s Christian CHR chart in 2008.
The Polyphonic Spree is a Dallas, Texas-based American choral rock band founded in 2000 by singer/songwriter Tim DeLaughter. An immense vocal choir and instruments include flute, trumpet, french horn, trombone, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano, guitars, bass, drums, electronic keyboards, and EWI supplement the band’s pop and rock songs.
The Paper Chase
The Paper Chase (stylized as “the pAper chAse”) was a Dallas, Texas-based American alternative rock band formed in 1998 by producer/engineer John Congleton and signed to Kill Rock Stars and Southern Records. Austrian label Trost Records has published their albums God Bless Your Black Heart, and Now You Are One of Us on vinyl. Allmusic has defined the Paper Chase’s sound as “a jagged structure of avant-garde jazz, noise, indie, and punk” from its inception.
John Congleton is a highly disturbed man who has spent his career as the frontman of The PAper ChAse crafting some of the most disturbing records in rock music. TPC combine alt-rock, noise, and avant-garde experimentation to terrible effect. At the same time, Congleton delivers lyrics that read like a serial killer’s journal. Suppose you’re up for seeing directly into a man’s pitch-black heart. In that case, any of their albums are worth studying, but 2002’s Hide The Kitchen Knives is particularly wicked.
D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (abbreviated D.R.I.) is an American crossover thrash band that started in 1982 in Houston and eventually relocated to San Francisco. The band’s current lineup includes two original members, vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy, drummer Rob Rampy and bassist Greg Orr.
The way they mixed their hardcore punk roots with thrash metal influences paved the way for bands like Corrosion of Conformity, Suicidal Tendencies, Stormtroopers of Death, the Cro-Mags, Adrenalin O.D., Nuclear Assault, and Cryptic Slaughter, who are considered to be some of the most important pioneers of “crossover thrash.” These bands had a big effect on thrash metal today.
D.R.I. has released seven full-length studio albums to date. Apart from three new songs on the 2016 EP But Wait… There’s More! they haven’t published a full-length studio album since 1995’s Full Speed Ahead. Despite this, the band continued to tour practically every year, with just a brief gap in 2004 and 2009, when Cassidy was diagnosed with colon cancer. D.R.I. has been working on their eighth full-length studio album, which remains unreleased, since at least 1998.
Absu was a heavy metal band from Dallas, Texas. Their demos and first album were more death metal than black metal or thrash metal, but they moved more toward a “Mythological Occult Metal” style that combines Celtic and folk music with jazz fusion, psychedelic music and progressive rock. Their esoteric lyrics talk about things like Sumerian, Celtic, and Mesopotamian stories and legends, numerology, alchemy, magick, and sorcery.
At the Drive-In
At the Drive-In was an El Paso, Texas-based post-hardcore band formed in 1994. Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals), Omar Rodrguez-López (guitar, vocals), Paul Hinojos (bass), Tony Hajjar (drums), and Keeley Davis comprised the band’s most recent lineup (guitar, vocals).
After a few lineup changes, the band settled on a five-piece lineup of Bixler-Zavala, Rodrguez-López, Jim Ward, Hinojos, and Hajjar. Before disbanding in 2001, At the Drive-In released three studio albums and five EPs. Relationship of Command, their third and final album before splitting, won many awards and is regarded as a classic of the post-hardcore genre. After the dissolution, Bixler-Zavala and Rodrguez-López established the Mars Volta, while Ward, Hinojos, and Hajjar formed Sparta.
In January 2012, At the Drive-In reformed and performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Lollapalooza Festival. The band reformed for the second time in 2016, with guitarist and occasional lead vocalist Jim Ward no longer participating. Keeley Davis of Sparta took his spot. In 2017, the band released their fourth studio album, in•ter a•li•a. In November 2018, the band announced an indefinite pause.
Devourment is a Dallas, Texas-based death metal band. Devourment is a well-known “slam death metal” (a subgenre of death metal) band. Since its inception in 1995, the band has separated and reformed three times, with Brad Fincher remaining the sole original member. The current cast members are Ruben Rosas, Chris Andrews, David Spencer, and Brad Fincher. They previously signed with Brutal Bands, United Guttural, and Corpse Gristle Records. They are currently signed to Relapse Records. Several labels have also reissued Devourment’s albums.
Devourment put out a demo called Impaled and an album called Molesting the Decapitated before splitting up because their singer, Ruben Rosas, was in jail. The band briefly got back together while he was in prison when the compilation album 1.3.8. came out, and once again reformed when he got out in 2002. The band got back together for the third time in 2005 and put out four full-length albums: Conceived in Sewage, Obscene Majesty, Butcher the Weak and Unleash the Carnivore.