This site is a celebration and archive of the art, music, anything and everything related to Armadillo World Headquarters, which opened for business in August 1970, 47 years ago.

The Armadillo played a unique and dynamic role in shaping not only the music community in Austin, but the city as we know it today— with its reputation as one of the coolest, most progressive cities in the world today. The last musical note on the Armadillo stage was played on New Year’s Eve 1980, but its influence lives on.

To this day Austin’s reputation for great music and laid-back attitude can be traced back to a handful of dance halls, dive bars and honky tonks. Hippies, slackers, and dreamers created world class music, art, and lifestyle at the Armadillo. Have you ever met a person whose life was changed after they experienced a show there? That’s just the beginning of the story.

Eddie 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, wish I’d written it.Dave Marsh

Dave Marsh’s Full Review

Like all the greatest stories told about the 1960’s, Eddie Wilson’s starts in the 1970’s. It stars a batch of redneck hippies, plus a slew of politicians, an occasional jock, and many others, often involved in nefarious activities, sometimes in alleyways, more often in the statehouse. Eddie and his crew set out to change the world, and at the very least, they turned Austin into what it is today, God help us all. Eddie’s story is by turns hilarious, informative, and the living spirit of its age, illuminating a previously under-detected transition point between the psychedelic peace-and-love crowd and a world where Shiner Bock—warm Shiner Bock—is the ideal social lubricant.

Technically, it’s the story of the joint where Bruce Springsteen found an audience about as far from New Jersey as you can get, and where Don Meredith discovered his true home field. But Eddie Wilson serves up even better than that. Eddie 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, wish I’d written it.

Dave Marsh

Dave Marsh, is a rock critic, historian, anti-censorship activist, talk show host, and “Louie Louie” expert,  has written more than 20 books about rock and popular music, as well as editing that many more. He co-founded and for four years edited Creem, the legendary rock and roll magazine that helped launch heavy metal, glam and punk, and spent five years as an associate and contributing editor of Rolling Stone, where he was chief music critic, columnist and feature writer. From 1985-2002, he served as music critic for Playboy.

More at davemarsh.us and Dave Marsh Wiki

Jesse Sublett

Eddie called upon the many talents of his friend and long time Austin musician and celebrated writer Jesse Sublett to assist in bringing Eddie Wilson’s memories into the present.  His knowledge and insight of the Austin music scene was invaluable. It helped to produce this look deep into Austin’s Musical story.

As a musician he is best known for his long-running rock trio, The Skunks. His essays and journalism have appeared in a wide range of publications, and he is also known for his mystery novels featuring a bass-playing sleuth named Martin Fender.  Find more about Jesse at his Jesse Sublett’s Little Black Book and his Wikipedia page.

For Immediate Release:

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.