El Conejo

While growing up in Southern California listening to KRLA, KHJ, and KBLA, I experienced the Golden Age of Top 40 radio, from roughly the late Fifties to the late Sixties. While "the chart" was certainly represented by its fair share of Texans, you wouldn't have known it from just listening. Texas hit-makers like Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Joe Tex, and Sam the Sham were never identified as Lone Star artists. But there was one renegade deejay who changed all that. Jimmy Rabbitt, "El Conejo," had come west from Dallas with an attitude and quickly made the switch from Top 40 to "underground" FM radio. He took pride in Texas music, not only sharing it with us, but just as importantly, identifying it as such. As the evening deejay on KMET, Rabbitt single-handedly turned on L.A.'s album-rock listeners to "outlaws" like Willie, Waylon, and David Alan Coe, bluesmen Freddy King and Johnny Winter, and quirky Austin bands like Balcones Fault. While he'd mix 'em up with West Coast country rockers like the Byrds, Burrito Brothers, Poco, and boogieman John Lee Hooker, he made darn sure you knew who was from Texas. Willie & Waylon's "Good Hearted Woman" was probably the only song of that era to actually make the national Top 40, but the grit, swagger, and soul of that music was enough to make at least one Southern California boy pack up and move to Texas.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Jay Trachtenberg
Ronnie Earle, Gangbuster
Ronnie Earle, Gangbuster
Jesse Sublett revisits Austin’s criminal past in Last Gangster in Austin

June 10, 2022

Inside the Seventies Weed Business in <i>Wild Times in Old Austin</i>
Inside the Seventies Weed Business in Wild Times in Old Austin
Dazed, confused, and profitable

June 10, 2022

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle