Playback: 35 Years of Chronicle Music Covers

We wade through the roughly 300 issues stamped with the mug of a musician

Playback: 35 Years of <i>Chronicle</i> Music Covers
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

On Aug. 17, 2005, as the Chronicle headed to the printer, Big Boys frontman and cover story subject Randy "Biscuit" Turner was found dead at his home by staff writer Marc Savlov.

"On Wednesday, prior to the issue's Thursday delivery, I went to his house and found a pile of packages on the door, laundry on the line, and the back door unlocked," remembered Savlov last week. "I knocked but no answer, so I poked my head in, and realized death was in the air."

His feature drawing attention to Biscuit's upcoming art exhibition thus arrived on newsstands doubling as an obituary.

That's one of roughly 300 Chronicle issues stamped with the mug of a musician. In honor of the paper's 35th anniversary, "Playback" took it upon itself to list every music notable who's ever been on our cover. This isn't an exact science – flipping through dusty binders of ancient newsprint and jotting down names – and notable omissions include Austin Music Awards covers featuring large group shots of the winners, so let's say it's roughly 95.743% accurate.

Greatest hits include lead-off batter and Brownsville native Kris Kristofferson being profiled by future George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon; Stevie Ray Vaughan's two identical covers; Daniel Johnston illustrating his own profile; Doug Sahm and Clifford Antone memorial issues; Alejandro Escovedo's record-setting eight covers; a SXSW staging of Gary Clark Jr., Black Joe Lewis, and Brannen Temple posing as businessmen while their 13th Floor Elevators operator Roky Erickson looks on; and Billy Joe Shaver baptized in Barton Springs.

Kris Kristofferson (10/2/81)

Jimmie Dale Gilmore (2/5/82)

Fabulous Thunderbirds (5/28/82)

The Clash (6/25/82)

Gary Floyd, Melissa Cobb, Randy Turner, Chris Wing, Karla Epler (8/6/82)

David Byrne (9/3/82)

Rank & File (10/15/82)

King Sunny Adé (4/1/83)

Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Jeff Walker (5/27/83)

Stevie Ray Vaughan (7/8/83)

Junior Franklin (7/22/83)

Marcia Ball (2/10/84)

Rod Kennedy (4/6/84)

Clifford Antone, C-Boy Parks (6/15/84)

Willie Nelson (6/29/84)

Dino Lee (9/7/84)

The Judy's (9/21/84)

Lou Ann Barton (11/30/84)

True Believers, Skunks (4/5/85)

Dennis Brown (4/19/85)

Elvis Presley (8/9/85)

Roky Erickson, Peter Buck (10/4/85)

Karen Kraft (1/31/86)

Fabulous Thunderbirds (2/28/86)

Bill Carter, Jimmie Vaughan, Marcia Ball (12/5/86)

Alejandro Escovedo (9/4/87)

Bob Wills (3/25/88)

Butch Hancock (5/20/88)

The Huns (9/23/88)

Glass Eye (1/13/89)

Fabulous Thunderbirds, Joe Walsh, Carlos Santana (4/7/89)

Derek O'Brien (10/6/89)

Nat King Cole (2/23/90)

Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Timbuk 3, Eric Johnson (3/16/90)

Chris Thomas (6/8/90)

Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom (6/22/90)

Johnny Degollado, Chris Cruz, Chon Martinez, Hector Rodriguez, Eugenio Zapata, Camilu Cantu, Abel Barrientos, Roy Donoso (7/20/90)

Stevie Ray Vaughan (8/31/90)

Joe Ely (10/19/90)

ZZ Top (5/3/91)

Frank Zappa (6/14/91)

Santiago Jiménez Jr. (2/21/92)

Alejandro Escovedo (5/29/92)

Grey Ghost, Erbie Bowser, T.D. Bell (10/16/92)

Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Jo Carol Pierce (12/4/92)

Butthole Surfers (8/6/93)

Diamanda Galas, Root Wy'mn (10/15/93)

Sarah Brown (11/5/93)

Mary Cutrufello (2/18/94)

James White (5/20/94)

Evan Johns, Betsy Nissen, Horsies (7/8/94)

Eric Johnson (7/22/94)

Bob Mould (9/9/94)

Tish Hinojosa (11/25/94)

Jimmie Vaughan (1/6/95)

Doug Sahm (2/17/95)

Meg Hentges (4/14/95)

Ed Hall (5/19/95)

James Polk, Tina Marsh (6/9/95)

Sue Foley (6/30/95)

Gibby Haynes (9/8/95)

Janis Joplin (1/12/96)

Jon Sanchez (2/23/96)

Alejandro Escovedo (4/12/96)

Beth Ullman, Pam Hart, Tina Marsh, Willie Nicholson, Mady Kaye, Hope Morgan, Donna Menthol (6/7/96)

Flaco Jiménez (7/5/96)

Paul Ray (7/19/96)

Stevie Ray Vaughan (8/9/96)

Eric Johnson (9/27/96)

Robert Earl Keen (4/24/97)

Keith Ferguson (5/9/97)

Jon Dee Graham (7/25/97)

Werner Zotter (9/26/97)

Ray Benson (12/5/97)

Lunachicks (12/26/97)

Sixteen Deluxe (1/16/98)

Kelly Willis, Charlie Robison, Bruce Robison (1/23/98)

Ruben Ramos (2/8/98)

Michael Fracasso (5/8/98)

Jacqueline Specht (5/29/98)

Elias Haslanger (6/12/98)

Storyville (7/24/98)

W.C. Clark (7/31/98)

Steven Fromholz, Lyle Lovett (9/11/98)

Clifford Antone (9/25/98)

Lucinda Williams (10/23/98)

Paul Ray, Larry Monroe, John Aielli, Jay Trachtenberg (11/6/98)

Manuel "Cowboy" Donley (11/27/98)

Fastball (12/11/98)

Spoon (1/22/99)

Kelly Willis, Monte Warden (2/12/99)

Carrie Clark, Rebecca Cannon (5/7/98)

Duke Ellington (4/30/99)

Bob Wills (8/13/99)

Daniel Johnston (8/20/99)

Bad Livers (10/5/99)

Los Skarnales (10/12/99)

Doug Sahm (10/26/99)

Goudie (1/16/00)

Leon Russell (1/28/00)

Jimmie Dale Gilmore (2/25/00)

Sterling Morrison (3/17/00)

Knolly Williams (8/4/00)

Vallejo (8/18/00)

The Gourds (9/22/00)

Preston Hubbard (10/20/00)

Barbara Kooyman (11/24/00)

Shawn Colvin, Charlie Robison, Britt Daniel (1/19/01)

Toni Price (9/14/01)

Jimmie Vaughan (11/23/01)

Gary Chester (12/21/01)

Kimmie Rhodes (2/1/02)

Jon Dee Graham (2/22/02)

Chris "Frenchie" Smith, Jennifer Stephens (3/29/02)

Johnny Gimble (4/5/02)

Darden Smith, Eliza Gilkyson (4/19/02)

Patty Griffin (5/17/02)

Rusty Wier (5/31/02)

Townes Van Zandt (6/14/02)

Alejandro Escovedo (6/28/02)

Flatlanders (7/26/02)

Celso Piña, Toy Hernández (10/18/02)

Billy Joe Shaver (3/14/03)

Del Castillo (4/11/03)

Ernie Durawa (5/23/03)

Marcia Ball (6/20/03)

Los Lonely Boys (8/1/03)

Explosions in the Sky (10/24/03)

Terry Allen (12/19/03)

Christine Albert, Chris Gage (1/9/04)

DJ Nicknack (2/6/04)

Los Lonely Boys (3/19/04)

Michael Fracasso (4/23/04)

Eliza Gilkyson (4/30/04)

Li'l Cap'n Travis (7/2/04)

13th Floor Elevators (8/13/04)

Sonny Curtis (10/15/04)

Alvin Crow (11/12/04)

Tommy & Avalon Hancock (12/31/04)

Skullening (1/14/05)

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (1/26/05)

Pinetop Perkins (2/4/05)

Anton Nel (2/11/05)

Roky Erickson (3/18/05)

Kathy McCarty (4/29/05)

Jimmy LaFave (5/6/05)

Heybale! (6/24/05)

Bill Callahan (7/1/05)

Tia Carrera (7/8/05)

Randy "Biscuit" Turner (8/19/05)

James McMurtry (9/9/05)

American Analog Set (9/16/05)

Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville (10/14/05)

Dale Watson (10/25/05)

Townes Van Zandt (12/9/05)

Roky Erickson (12/30/05)

Kinky Friedman (2/17/06)

Kris Kristofferson (2/24/06)

Spoon (3/17/06)

Riverboat Gamblers (4/21/06)

Cyril Neville (4/28/06)

Daniel Johnston (5/5/06)

Clifford Antone (5/26/06)

Sound Team (6/9/06)

Ray Wylie Hubbard (6/23/06)

Michael Ramos (8/18/06)

Scratch Acid (9/1/06)

Elvis Costello (9/15/06)

Don Walser (9/29/06)

Cornell Hurd (11/3/06)

Basswood Lane (11/17/06)

Rapid Ric (2/2/07)

Kathy Valentine (2/9/07)

Barbara Kooyman (2/23/07)

Octopus Project (3/16/07)

Silas Lowe, Jerry Hagins (3/30/07)

Bavu Blakes (4/27/07)

Voxtrot (5/18/07)

Ernie Mae Miller (7/6/07)

Blues Boy Hubbard (7/13/07)

Meat Puppets (7/20/07)

Rosie Flores (8/10/07)

Iron & Wine (9/20/07)

Golden Boys, Strange Boys (11/9/07)

Bobbie Nelson (1/18/08)

Jad Fair (1/25/08)

Gary Clark Jr. (2/1/08)

Brannen Temple, Gary Clark Jr., Black Joe Lewis, Roky Erickson (3/14/08)

Black Angels (5/9/08)

Weird Weeds (5/16/08)

Grupo Fantasma (6/13/08)

Alejandro Escovedo (6/20/08)

Reckless Kelly (7/4/08)

Krum Bums (7/11/08)

Stevie Ray Vaughan (9/5/08)

Butthole Surfers (9/26/08)

Suzanna Choffel (11/28/08)

Carolyn Hester (12/19/08)

Bryan & Andrea Nelson (12/26/08)

The Sword (1/9/09)

Erika Wennerstrom (1/30/09)

Doug Sahm (3/20/09)

Graham Reynolds (5/1/09)

BettySoo (6/19/09)

Staci Russell (8/28/09)

Balmorhea (9/18/09)

Bob Schneider (10/2/09)

Moby Grape (1/8/10)

Sarah Jarosz (1/15/10)

Christeene (1/29/10)

Jeff Lofton, Hannibal Lokumbe (2/12/10)

Stephen Bruton, Jeff Bridges (3/19/10)

Amy Cook (4/9/10)

Sara Hickman (5/7/10)

LZ Love (6/4/10)

Mr. Jimmie Jones & Dr. Beulah Agnes Curry Jones (6/18/10)

Butcher Bear (6/25/10)

Jimmie Vaughan (7/16/10)

Mother Falcon (7/30/10)

Jess Klein (8/13/10)

Ghostland Observatory (10/22/10)

John Wesley Coleman (11/12/10)

Papa Mali & Bill Kreutzmann (11/26/10)

Elizabeth McQueen (1/21/11)

Bright Light Social Hour (2/11/11)

Tim Kerr (2/25/11)

Mother Falcon (3/18/11)

Bright Light Social Hour (3/25/11)

Foot Patrol (4/29/11)

Band of Heathens (5/6/11)

Akina Adderley (6/10/11)

Explosions in the Sky (7/1/11)

Artly Snuff/Uranium Savages (7/8/11)

Schmillion (7/22/11)

Andrew Kenny (8/12/11)

Nakia (9/9/11)

The Gourds (9/23/11)

Scott H. Biram (10/21/11)

Ume (11/18/11)

Denny Freeman (12/2/11)

Ruthie Foster (1/27/12)

Quiet Company (2/17/12)

Alejandro Escovedo, Bruce Springsteen (3/16/12)

Ray Campi (3/30/12)

Octavis Berry (6/8/12)

Charlie Belle (6/22/12)

Ruby Jane (6/29/12)

Billy Joe Shaver (8/17/12)

Dikes of Holland (8/31/12)

Evan Johns (9/28/12)

Gary Clark Jr. (10/12/12)

Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison (2/8/13)

Sons of Fathers (3/29/13)

Willie Nelson (4/12/13)

David Wingo (5/24/13)

Emily Gimble, Warren Hood (7/12/13)

Guy Clark (7/19/13)

Okkervil River (9/6/13)

White Denim (10/11/13)

ZZ Top (12/27/13)

Steve Wertheimer & C-Boy Parks (1/31/14)

Claire Wells (2/21/14)

Sarah Jarosz (4/11/14)

Margaret Wright (6/13/14)

Dale Watson (7/25/14)

The Young (8/22/14)

Shakey Graves (9/26/14)

Kat Edmonson (11/28/14)

Ian McLagan (12/12/14)

Dowrong & Eric Dingus (1/16/15)

Country Cousins (3/6/15)

East Cameron Folkcore (4/3/15)

Elana James (4/24/15)

Matt Vasquez (6/5/15)

Erika Wennerstrom (6/12/15)

Carson McHone (7/31/15)

Moving Panoramas (9/25/15)

Leon Bridges (10/2/15)

Sarah Brown, Memphis Slim (1/15/16)

Punks on Parade (2/5/16)

Charlie Belle (3/4/16)

Paul Ray & the Cobras (3/18/16)

Graham Reynolds (3/25/16)

Hayes Carll (4/8/16)

Rick Reed (5/20/16)

Troller (7/1/16)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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  

READ MORE
More Weird 2016
10 Freaks and Geeks to Redefine Austin Music
10 Freaks and Geeks to Redefine Austin Music
Local passion projects with singular visions

Greg Beets, Sept. 2, 2016

More Playback
Playback: My Top 100 Austin Records of 2018
Playback: My Top 100 Austin Records of 2018
Kevin Curtin picks his favorite local sounds of the year

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 21, 2018

Playback: Bombs, Beto, and the Biggest Music Stories of 2018
Playback: Bombs, Beto, and the Biggest Music Stories of 2018
“Playback” recaps the news, trends, and controversies of the year. Outrage level: high.

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 14, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Weird 2016, Randy "Biscuit" Turner, Big Boys, Marc Savlov, Kris Kristofferson, Mark McKinnon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Daniel Johnston, Roky Erickson, Gary Clark Jr., Billy Joe Shaver

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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