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Armadillo World Headquarters

Armadillo World Headquarters
A Memoir
Foreword by Dave Marsh

The founder of Armadillo World Headquarters recalls the lively history of this legendary music venue and its role in launching cosmic cowboy/redneck rock and making Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world.

TSSI Publishing
April 2017
This book is out of print and no longer available.
520 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 color, 105 b&w photos, 105 color and 9 b&w illus. |

“Eddie’s story is by turns hilarious, informative, and the living spirit of its age. . . . [He] piles the most unlikely anecdotes on top of one another, creating a land of enchantment and an order of chemically altered consciousness that rescues an era I’d thought not so much lost as forgotten. Not only am I thrilled I’ve read this story and wish I was in it, I wish I’d written it.”
—Dave Marsh, from the foreword

“The Armadillo World Headquarters . . . was one of the most exciting, and remained one of the most exciting, places in the United States for the years that it was in operation. I saw a little of everything at the Armadillo, and it was one of the great experiences of my life.”
—Ann Richards, from the author’s preface

On August 7, 1970, Eddie Wilson and a band of hippies threw open the doors of Armadillo World Headquarters, and the live music capital of the world was born in Austin, Texas. Over its ten-year lifespan, the Armadillo hosted thousands of high-profile musicians—Willie Nelson, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Taj Mahal, AC/DC, Charlie Daniels, the Ramones, Roy Buchanan, and Bette Midler, to name a random few. The Armadillo helped define the Austin lifestyle, culture, and identity, setting the stage for successors such as the SXSW music festival, PBS’s Austin City Limits, and the ACL festival, which have made Austin an international destination for music fans.

In this rollicking memoir, Eddie Wilson tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Armadillo from the moment he first peered into a derelict National Guard armory building and knew that destiny had found him. He vividly describes how two previously clashing groups—rednecks and hippies—came together at the Armadillo, enjoying a new blend of country music and rock that spawned a many-named movement: cosmic cowboy, progressive country, and redneck rock, among others. Wilson also reveals the struggles and creative solutions that kept the doors open, the angels who provided timely infusions of cash, the janitors and carpenters who maintained the Dillo, and the artists who created iconic poster art. Extensively illustrated with candid photographs and music posters, Armadillo World Headquarters recounts the story of this legendary venue as no other book can.

  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Earning My Hippie Card
  • Now Dig This
  • Cosmic Justice
  • Head Honcho
  • The Armadillo Art Squad
  • A King, a Domino, a Captain, and a Leo
  • Digging for Progress
  • Living the Dream
  • A Cultural Refinery
  • Things Were Looking Up
  • The Great Redneck-Hippie Merger
  • A Breed Apart
  • Being Thankful for What We’ve Got
  • Not Your Daddy’s Beer Joint
  • The First Willie Nelson Picnic
  • Armadillo TV, or What Might Have Been
  • Then the Rains Came
  • Home with the Armadillo
  • Long Live Longnecks
  • Pot, Big Red, Acid, Coke, and Pumpkins
  • Feeding the Legend
  • Crosstown Competition
  • Traveling Armadillo Blues
  • Dear Lone Star
  • The First and Final Annual AWHQ Newsletter
  • Rough Waters
  • One Last Swing for the Fences
  • Eddie Has Left the Building
  • The Raw Deal and a White Rabbit
  • The Armadillo Emerges
  • Last Call
  • Full Circle
  • Appendix: A Selection of Gig Posters from AWHQ
  • A Note on Sources
  • Notes
  • Index

Austin, Texas

Wilson founded and ran the Armadillo until 1976, when he left to open a restaurant called the Raw Deal and then, in 1981, took ownership of Threadgill’s, where he continues to purvey live music and Southern cuisine.

Austin, Texas

Sublett is a writer, musician, and artist known for his long-running rock trio, the Skunks, and his mystery novels.


Well-known rock critic Marsh has written more than twenty books about rock and popular music. A founding editor of Creem, he has written and edited Rock and Rap Confidential for twenty-five years.


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca