Monday, February 15, 2010

Armadillo Austin Texas Rock and Roll Music Dance Band's Art Poster Roland Dressler Collection

Art Print measures:17 1/2" X 11 1/2"

This is a reproduction recent re-issue of vintage concert poster promoting Armadillo promotional relic


Austin's Hotest Dance Bands

Saturday February 12th

PAUL RAY and the Cobras JIMMY VAUGHAN and the Thunderbirds


In 1970, Austin's flagship rock music venue, the Vulcan Gas Company, closed, leaving the city's nascent live music scene without an incubator.

One night, Eddie Wilson, manager of the local group Shiva's Headband, stepped outside a nightclub where the band was playing and noticed an old, abandoned National Guard armory.

Wilson found an unlocked garage door on the building and was able to view the cavernous interior using the headlights of his automobile.

He had a desire to continue the legacy of the Vulcan Gas Company, and was inspired by what he saw in the armory to create a new music hall in the derelict structure.

The armory was estimated to have been built in 1948, but no records of its construction could be located.

The building was ugly, uncomfortable, and had poor acoustics, but offered cheap rent and a central location.

Posters for the venue usually noted the address as 525 1/2 Barton Springs Road (Rear), behind the Skating Palace.

The name for the Armadillo was inspired by the use of armadillos as a symbol in the artwork of Jim Franklin, a local poster artist, and from the building itself.

In choosing the mascot for the new venture, Wilson and his partners wanted an "armored" animal since the building was an old armory.

The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) was chosen because of its hard shell that looks like armor, its history as a survivor (virtually unchanged for 50 million years), and its near-ubiquity in central Texas.

Wilson also believed the building looked like it had been some type of headquarters at one time.

He initially proposed "International Headquarters" but in the end it became "World Headquarters."

In founding the Armadillo, Wilson was assisted by Franklin, Mike Tolleson, an entertainment attorney, Bobby Hedderman from the Vulcan Gas Company and Hank Alrich.

Funding for the venture was initially provided by Shiva's Headband founder, Spencer Perskin, and Mad Dog, Inc. an Austin literati group.

The Armadillo World Headquarters officially opened on August 7, 1970 with Shiva's Headband, the Hub City Movers, and Whistler performing.

The hall held about 1,500 patrons, but chairs were limited, so most patrons sat on the floor on sections of carpet that had been pieced together.

The Armadillo caught on quickly with the hippie culture of Austin because admission was inexpensive and the hall tolerated marijuana use.

Even though illicit drug use was flagrant, the Armadillo was never raided.

Anecdotes suggest the police were worried about having to bust their fellow officers as well as local and state politicians.

Soon, the Armadillo started receiving publicity in national magazines such as Rolling Stone.

Time magazine wrote that the Armadillo was to the Austin music scene what The Fillmore had been to the emergence of rock music in the 1960s.

The clientèle became a mixture of hippies, cowboys, and businessmen who stopped by to have lunch and a beer and listen to live music.

At its peak, the amount of Lone Star draft beer sold by the Armadillo was second only to the Houston Astrodome.

The Neiman-Marcus department store even offered a line of Armadillo-branded products.

The blend of country and rock music performed at the hall became known as "The Austin Sound," "Redneck Rock," or "Cosmic Cowboy."

Many upcoming and established acts such as Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and ZZ Top played the Armadillo. Freddie King, Frank Zappa, and Commander Cody all recorded live albums there.

Bruce Springsteen played five shows during 1974.

The Australian band AC/DC played their first American show at the Armadillo with Canadian band Moxy in July 1977.

Despite its successes, the Armadillo always struggled financially.

The addition of the Armadillo Beer Garden in 1972 and the subsequent establishment of food service were both bids to generate positive cash flow.

However, the financial difficulties continued.

This predicament was blamed on a combination of large guaranteed payments for the acts, cheap ticket prices, and poor promotion.

The club finally had to lay off staff members in late 1976 and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1977.

Another factor in the club's demise was that it sat on 5.62 acres (22,700 m2) of prime real estate in what soon became a prime development area in the rapidly growing city.

The Armadillo's landlord sold the property for an amount estimated between $4 million and $8 million.

The final concert at the Armadillo took place on December 31, 1980. The sold-out New Year's Eve show featured Asleep at the Wheel and Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.

Some reports say the show ended at 4 a.m., while others claim that the bands played until dawn.

The contents of the Armadillo were sold at auction in January 1981, and the old armory was razed for a high-rise office building.

With the success of the Armadillo and Austin's burgeoning music scene, KLRN (now KLRU), the local PBS television affiliate, created Austin City Limits, a program showcasing popular local, regional, and national music acts.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar began in 1976 at the Armadillo, and is still held annually during the Christmas season.

The Bazaar was another attempt to improve cash flow for the hall.

When the Armadillo closed, the Bazaar changed locations every year, as it leased whatever large empty retail space might be available at the time.

In 1995, the bazaar settled at the Austin Music Hall for twelve years.

Due to remodeling of the Austin Music Hall, the Bazaar had to move its 2007 show to the Austin Convention Center.

The bazaar has become one of the top-ranked arts and crafts shows in the nation with a long waiting list of artisans who wish to show their work.

On August 19, 2006, the City of Austin dedicated a commemorative plaque at the site where the Armadillo once stood.

Price $20. shipping in U.S.A.

Contact Roland Dressler

Cell: 409.750.3688

Mailing address: Roland Dressler P.O. Box 16214 Galveston, Texas, 77552