Iconic Club Owner Eddie Wilson Puts Memorabilia Collection Up for Auction

Features, History, News — By on December 7, 2014 11:45 pm

(photo: Steve Hopson)

[Note from the Editor: this was supposed to be a short little news blurb. Apparently, I am incapable of that.]

Legendary Austin venue owner and music promoter Eddie Wilson will be auctioning-off part of his unique collection of musical memorabilia, station KVUE-TV has reported.

If you’ve ever heard that Austin is a music town, Eddie Wilson can take a lot of credit for that. Since 1970, Wilson has been associated with two of the most hallowed venues in the Austin music scene: the Armadillo World Headquarters and Threadgill’s. Wilson was also manager for the Austin-based seminal psychedelic country/cosmic cowboy band, Shiva’s Headband.

In 44 years, a person who is so deeply entrenched in the music scene can accumulate an enormous amount of musical memorabilia. In January, Wilson will be putting much of his collection under the gavel with the Burley Auction Group in New Braunfels, Texas. The auction takes place on January 17th, at 10:00 a.m.

In addition to downsizing his collection, Wilson says another purpose of the auction is to raise the capital to pursue one of his longtime ambitions: opening a Threadgill’s location in New Zealand.

Among Wilson’s items up for auction will be:

*Vintage concert posters and playbills for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Freddie King, Mance Lipscombe, Bruce Springsteen, Asleep at the Wheel, Doug Sahm, The Texas Tornados, Shiva’s Headband and Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen

*A Janis Joplin nude and a flier for a lecture by Timothy Leary that took place at the Armadillo.

*Vintages signs and other promotional items for a variety of beers, including Lone Star and Pearl — as well as several such as Falstaff, Sabinas, Southern Select and Texas Pride which no longer exist.

*A collection of vintage neon signage.

To view the full collection of Wilson’s items under the gavel or get additional information on the auction, visit the Burley Auction Group website (scroll down until you get to the Wilson collection).

About Wilson’s Venues

Wilson’s Armadillo World Headquarters anchored the Austin music scene during the formative period of 1970 to 1980. The venue provided a haven both to Austin’s hippie/counterculture community and the nascent outlaw country movement, a cross-fertilization that would have a profound impact on genres such as alt-country, red dirt and Americana. It also hosted touring acts from a wide range of genres, including the first US performance by AC/DC and an unusual 1979 show pairing outlaw country icon Joe Ely with classic UK punk band The Clash, which gave rise to a 1980 joint tour.

In its heyday, the Armadillo was notorious for the open drug use occurring on premises. In spite of this reputation, the venue was never raided. Urban folklore suggests this was because the Austin police department feared the number fellow officers as well as state politicians that might be caught in a bust at the Armadillo.

Asleep at the Wheel performing at Armadillo World Headquarters

If you could point to a single “origin story” for Austin’s identity as music town, it would be Threadgill’s. Established by Kenneth Threadgill, an old-school country singer and yodeler in the Jimmie Rodgers style, it received the first beer license in Austin after the repeal of Prohibition. Again, folklore suggests Prohibition actually had very little impact on the venue’s beer sales. In the 1960s, Austin was a very different place from today. Its small, university-centered counterculture movement had been thrown out of almost every bar in the city. They began hanging out at Threadgills and, to everyone’s mutual surprise, the hippies and Threadgill and his redneck regulars found they enjoyed each other’s company and each other’s music. Its Wednesday night hootenannies provided one of the earliest laboratories for mixing country music with the new musical trends of the ’60s. When the Armadillo closed, Wilson bought Threadgill’s from Kenneth Threadgill, who was then his 80s. Wilson continued to run it with an approach similar to both Threadgill’s and the manner in which he had run the Armadillo.

Kenneth Threadgill doing his thing

Lisa Mills and Earl Poole Ball performing at Threadgill’s

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