Famous East Texans

Miranda LambertMiranda Lambert (born 1983)

East Texas Connection: Born in Longview; raised in Lindale. Lambert’s breakthrough 2005 album “Kerosene” sold more than 1 million copies. Her “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was Academy of Country Music’s Album of the Year Award and she won a Grammy for “The House that Built Me.” She also performs with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley as the Pistol Annies.

Chris TomlinChris Tomlin (born 1974)

East Texas Connection: born in Grand Saline. His contemporary Christian music hits include “Our God,”  “How Great is Our God” and “Amazing Grace(My Chains are Gone).” He won a Grammy Award in 2012.

There are a lot of influential, talented and famous people on this list, but Tomlin may be the most quietly huge person on it. Few can lay claim to shaping an entire sound, but that’s what Tomlin has done. Go into a non-denominational Christian church and chances are the praise and worship songs sung will include one penned by Tomlin. His songs have helped define modern worship music.

 Lee Ann WomackLee Ann Womack (born 1966)

East Texas Connection: Born in Jacksonville. She is known for “I Hope You Dance,” a song in which she encourages her daughter to take chances in life. “Mendocino County Line,” a duet with Willie Nelson, is one of her biggest hits.

Neal McCoyNeal McCoy (born in 1958)

East Texas Connection: Born in Jacksonville; lives in Longview. An inductee into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, McCoy’s hits include: “No Doubt About It,” “Wink,” and “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”

Don HenleyDon Henley (born in 1947)

East Texas Connection: Born in Gilmer. As lead vocalist of The Eagles (the biggest selling American band in history) Henley is featured on “Best of My Love,” One of These Nights,” “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.” His solo hits include “Dirty Laundry,” “The End of the Innocence” and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”

There’s no denying The Eagles’ presence in the annals of rock and roll history. The band wouldn’t have been what it was without Henley at the helm. Helping to make some of the most recognizable rock songs of all time, this Gilmer native played a huge part in rock history.

Will JenningsWill Jennings  (born 1944)

East Texas Connection: Raised near Tyler. A lyricist, he has written some of the biggest pop anthems: Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” the Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes’ duet “Up Where We Belong,” Barry Manilow’s “Looks Like We Made It” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”

Johnny MathisJohnny Mathis (born in 1935)

East Texas Connection: Born in Gilmer. The velvety voice crooner’s biggest hit was “Chances Are” in 1957. In a career that has spanned decades, Mathis has sold more than 350 million records.

Tracy LawrenceTracy Lawrence (born in 1968)

East Texas Connection: Born in Atlanta, Texas.:Lawrence has released nine studio albums, three compilations, a live album, and a Christmas album. His studio albums have accounted for more than forty singles on the Billboard country music charts. His country music hits include “Sticks and Stones,” “If the Good Die Young,” “Texas Tornado” and “Time Marches On.”

Linda DavisLinda Davis (born in 1962)

East Texas Connection: bornDotson, Texas, near Carthage. She first sang in public on a local radio show at age six. Claim to Fame: Her 1993 duet with Reba McEntire, “Does He Love You?” was a No. 1 hit and won a Grammy.

Carl Gardner (1928-2011)

East Texas Connection: Born and raised in Tyler. He was the lead singer of The Coasters, a vocal group in the 1950s and 1960s, whose high-spirited hits included “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown” and “Poison Ivy.”

Tex Ritter (1905-1974)

East Texas Connection: born in Panola County. A singing cowboy in the 1930s and 1940s, he starred in dozens of films and on TV. His hit songs included “I’m Wastin’ My Tears on You.”

Johnny Horton (1925-1960)

East Texas Connection: Raised in Rusk. His 1959 hit “Battle of New Orleans,” helped usher in the historical ballad craze. He also had hits with “North to Alaska” and Sink the Bismarck.”

Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989)

East Texas Connection: Born near Jefferson. He sang on radio shows and appeared in movies with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He wrote Rosemary Clooney’s hit “This Ole House” and the gospel classic “It is No Secret (What God Can Do).”

“Gentleman” Jim Reeves (1923-1964)

East Texas Connection: born near Carthage. The singer’s country and pop hits in the 1950s included “Yonder Comes a Sucker,” “My Lips are Sealed,” “Four Walls” and “He’ll Have to Go.”

Ray Price (born 1926)

East Texas Connection: Born near Winnsboro. He made “For the Good Times” a No. 1 record in 1970. He also topped country charts with “Crazy Arms” and “Make the World Go Away.”

 Gene Watson (born in 1943)

East Texas Connection: Born in Palestine. His country hits include his 1979 signature song “Farewell Party,” “Love in the Hot Afternoon,” “14 Carat Mind” and “Should I Come Home (Or Should I Go Crazy).”

Freddie King (1934-1976)

East Texas Connection: Born in Gilmer. He (along with B.B. King and Albert King) is known as one of the “Three Kings” of blues. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)

East Texas Connection: Born in Linden. As a guitarist, he helped popularize the electric blues sound. Walker is in both the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

Nat Stuckey (1933-1988)

East Texas Connection: Born in Atlanta, Texas. His hits include “Got Leaving on her Mind,” “Take Time to Love Her” and “I Used it All on You.”

Al Dexter (1905-1984)

East Texas Connection: Born in Jacksonville. He helped popularize honky tonk music with his hit “Honky Tonk Blues.” His hits in the 1940s included “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and “Guitar Polka.”

Lefty Frizzell (1928-1975)

East Texas Connection: Born in Corsicana. His many hits included “If You’ve Got the Money Honey, I’ve Got the Time,” “I Love You a Thousand Ways,” and “Saginaw, Michigan.”


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