State Musical Instrument
Nothing might represent the breadth of Texas popular culture more than the Legislature’s designation of the guitar as our official musical instrument. To quote its resolution, “Texan preeminence in pop, blues, country and western, jazz, rock, and tejano music is an apt expression of the state’s rich diversity.” The resolution specifically mentions Willie Nelson, rock and roller Buddy Holly, and blues singer Stevie Ray Vaughan, though Texas’ guitar legacy also extends to the late Lydia Mendoza, whose Latin rhythms played for President Jimmy Carter; ZZ Top’s bandmember Billy Gibbons, known as much for his long gray beard as his guitar riffs; and Lightnin’ Hopkins, a Centerville native whose hard chords and blues vocals were described by a music historian as “the embodiment of the jazz-and-poetry spirit.”
Learn • Go • Do
Guitars and other artifacts of Texas’ country musicians are preserved in Carthage at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame/Tex Ritter Museum.
A statue of Lightnin’ Hopkins graces a park in Crockett, Buddy Holly and his guitar are featured on Lubbock’s West Texas Walk of Fame, and the likeness of Willie Nelson and his guitar Trigger oversee the intersection of Willie Nelson Boulevard and Lavaca Street in Austin, as does Stevie Ray Vaughan’s statue on Austin’s Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake.