Listen: This Music Venue Was Only Around For 10 Years – But It Changed Austin Forever

The Armadillo World Headquarters would have been 50 in 2020. An oral history examines its lasting impact.

By Laura RiceAugust 14, 2020 10:47 am, , ,

The Armadillo World Headquarters – or just “The Armadillo” – was such a big deal that, 50 years after it closed, Austin radio station KUTX is dedicating the whole month to its celebration. An hour-long oral history and an accompanying podcast are coming out this weekend: “Back Home To The Armadillo.”

KUTX is part of Texas Standard’s home station. Producers shared some voices from their special coverage on how the Armadillo World Headquarters changed the identity of Austin culturally, politically, and artistically:

“I turned around and there was a little guy there who said, ‘Hi, I’m Willie Nelson. And I said, ‘I’ve been looking for you.’ And he said, ‘Well, you found me.’ I said, ‘I want you to play here.’ He said, ‘I want to play here.’”

“There is a band playing at the Armadillo and they are The Runaways and they are the exact same age as me and I just cannot wait… it just cemented my ambitions.” 

Courtesy of Austin Museum of Popular Culture

Armadillo World Headquarters entrance sign.

“Bruce Springsteen’s playing tonight and it’s only a dollar!” 

“We were big Clash fans, we’d never seen them live and they had just gotten there new drummer, Topper. And they just – they were – that was probably one of the top ten Armadillo shows I ever saw.”

“B.B. King! Oh my gosh.” 

“It just shows you that the Armadillo wasn’t just about cosmic cowboys, it wasn’t just about blues, it was about music. And you can blame the Armadillo for bringing hardcore to Austin!”