Texas Drug Store Cowboys Celebrating 50 Years as Dancehall & Venue Legends

50th Anniversary will be on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022 at John T. Floores Country Store & Dance Hall in Helotes, Texas. 3-7 p.m.

Admired by fiercely loyal fans, The Drugstore Cowboys have brought their electric energy to venues throughout the US and Europe.

The south side of San Antonio, in the neighborhoods surrounding McCollum and Harlandale high schools, are the childhood homes of many notable people in Country, Funk, Soul and Tejano Music.

Legendary Country Music DJ Hall of Famer and everybody’s “Cousin” Jerry King went to Harlandale in the 1960s. I can remember when King, along with other DJs and musicians, played with the likes of Willie Nelson and George Jones at a charity basketball matchup at the McCollum gym in the late 1960s.

During the 1972-73 school year Nashville recording artist Johnny Bush played on stage at the McCollum Auditorium. Country.

Down on Harding Blvd., a talented local newspaper country music and entertainment writer, John Goodspeed, served as an early inspiration for me.

The late Emilio Navaira, from the McCollum Class of 1980, was a Mexican-American musician who performed country and Tejano music nationally. His classmate from the year ahead of him, Yolanda Saldívar, is the convicted murderer of Latin music superstar Selena, and is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.

Especially in the late 70s and early 80s many of us would go watch Horizon perform. Southsiders Charlie, John, and Geoff Boggess joined classmate Freddy Carrillo and others (T-Bo Gonzalez, Bill Dudley, Larry Scott and Sahara Greer come to mind) and actually opened for the Commodores. The story goes they were offered to go on the road with Cool and the Gang but turned them down.

Through the years, southsider singers and musicians continued to play venues and dances as far away as Europe, on television and especially throughout the Lone Star State.

Some of the more enduring included Rex Allen McNeil, Walter “Tooter” Ripps, Ray Morris, Randy Potts, Lonnie Castleman, John Marsh, Leonard Wong, and the rockers, The Toman Brothers, Randy and Russell—and who could forget R

1972

In the fall of 1972, 17-year-old McCollum senior Dub Robinson had organized a country trio and began playing around a little bit. He went to go see Willie Nelson at the John T. Floore Country Store northwest of San Antonio in the foothills of the Hill Country town of Helotes.

Johnny Bush, Paul English, Willie Nelson

Nelson was to perform as a trio with drummer Paul English and Bee Spears on bass. The steel player didn’t show.

“I watched Willie play that gut string guitar and it didn’t lose anything,” Robinson remembers. Since age 12, Robinson had played professionally across South Texas, but on this night he was particularly inspired.

He called his drummer, Robert “Cotton” Payne, and his bassist, Tommy McKay the next day and proclaimed that if they could be a hundredth as good as Nelson was, they might have a chance.

They knew their taste in music was a blend of country, rock, and blues. McKay suggested the perfect name for their new band. It described the kind of “cowboy” who didn’t want to get his boots dirty.

I’ve followed Dub and other fellow McCollum Cowboys classmates over the years. He continues to be a favorite.

At a ten year class reunion in 1983 at the downtown El Tropicano Hotel Ballroom, Dub and his band honored his classmates as we danced in memories of “old times.” I was particularly honored. I knew the band was good, but when I was called over during a break, he asked me what Elvis song I was going to sing later that evening.

I suggested “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hearbreak Hotel,” and “Hound Dog.”

He grinned, and with guitar in hand, said, “Okay. Let me hear you sing them.”

1983 McCollum 10 Yr Reunion. Dub (guitar) was the ultra-professional. What an honor for me.

I only had to belt out a sentence or a few words of each. He immediately knew what key and chords to play.

Later, when some of our classmates were literally pulling my pants off while singing, I looked back at Dub. He was grinning big time. He and his band never missed a lick. I tried my best not to also. It remains a fun and wonderful memory in my heart.

In 2011, while interviewing George Strait and Ray Benson at a fundraiser for wounded veterans at Tapatio Springs outside of Boerne, Texas, Strait said something that reminded me of Dub.

“When everyone thinks of Asleep at the Wheel, they think of Ray.”

That’s exactly how I feel about the Drug Store Cowboys. When I think of them, I think of Dub Robinson.

The Drugstore Cowboys with Gary Stewart: Dub Robinson (left), Stewart, Randy Toman and Robert "Cotton" Payne.
Dub Robinson on the left.

Dub just announced the band will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with a new CD. What are his thoughts?

In his own creative words, the songwriter, musician and singer posted:

Originally, McKay lasted about a year and a half and Randy Toman, (who now performs with his brother Russell), became the bassist for 13 years.

They became the touring band for country stars Gary Stewart and Stoney Edwards. The Drugstore Cowboys also backed Johnny Rodriguez, Freddy Fender, Johnny Bush and Gene Watson.

Other artists they shared the stage with or even backed up include Nelson, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Frenchy Burke, Greg Allman, David Allen Cole, Charlie Daniels, the Mavericks, Jerry Jeff Walker, and even Asleep At The Wheel.

“They joined Stewart, who was known for such hits as “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles),” when his backing band could not make a gig at the old Kicker’s Palace,” Goodspeed once reported. “The owner told Stewart they knew all his songs and he gave them a try. Stewart hired them and they toured coast to coast. Robinson quit after four years.”

“I didn’t want to be somebody’s backup band the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m a songwriter first and wanted to do my own thing.”

In 50 years, at least that many musicians have played in The Drugstore Cowboys.

Some of the members went on to play for the Bellamy Brothers, Janie Fricke, Bill Anderson, and Judas Priest.

“I believe it’s all about the song. It’s a lot of work running a band, but I do it just to play my music the way I want to hear it,” Dub said.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

From the Grand Ole Opry: Top Trailblazing Women

These Opry members of past and present have been trailblazers for the women who have — and will — follow in their path.

Patsy Cline

The uncompromising and inimitable Patsy Cline went after what she wanted from her career — even turning the tables to ask if she could become a member of the Grand Ole Opry rather than waiting to be invited. Not only did Cline become the first female country artist to headline her own Las Vegas residency and perform at Carnegie Hall, but she also became the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Carrie Underwood

As one of the most successful female country artists of this century, Carrie Underwood has lifted other women up as she continues to climb. In 2018 with the release of her album Cry Pretty, she made history as the first woman to have four country albums reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart. In support of the album, Underwood handpicked Runaway June and Maddie & Tae as her openers. The all-female tour served as an important reminder of the talent women bring to the table.  

Kitty Wells

The first full-fledged female country star made a splash on the scene with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” a response song that was inspired by fellow artist Hank Thompson’s “Wild Side of Life.” Challenging double standards and wifely duties, the song was searing and controversial for its time. While it wasn’t originally allowed to be played on the Grand Ole Opry, it struck such a strong chord with women that it eventually made its way to the stage.

Dolly Parton

When Dolly Parton joined The Porter Wagoner Show as Porter Wagoner’s “girl singer,” she proved herself to be no second fiddle. It didn’t take long for Parton to forge her own independent career and become a household name around the world. She is the only country artist who can say that she has had a Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart for six consecutive decades.

Jeannie Seely

Evident in her songs like “Who Needs You” and “Don’t Touch Me,” Jeannie Seely has long been an outspoken artist, forging the path for other women to follow in her footsteps. She became the first woman to regularly host 30-minute segments on the Grand Ole Opry after advocating for fairer representation. When she was challenged once for wearing a miniskirt on stage, Seely told Opry manager Ott Devine, “Okay, this is what America is wearing and I’ll make you a deal. I won’t wear a miniskirt in the back door if you don’t let anybody wear one in the front door,” as she recounted in Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary.

Crystal Gayle

A singular artist, Crystal Gayle forged her own unique musical identity to set herself apart from sister Loretta Lynn. In embracing a crossover sound, Gayle became the first female country artist whose album was certified platinum for selling a million copies. We Must Believe in Magic featured the smash single “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”

Reba McEntire

Throughout the course of her career, Reba McEntire has distinguished herself as a dynamic performer, not just as a singer but also as an actress and producer. McEntire once said, “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone,” and she continues to practice what she preaches. In 2018, she became the first woman to play the part of chicken tycoon Colonel Sanders in a commercial.

Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini has emerged as one of country music’s most promising young lyricists, delivering real-life honesty through irresistible hooks in songs like “homecoming queen?” and “Miss Me More.” If the early years of her career are any indication — she is the only female artist in country music whose debut album had three No. 1 singles — Ballerini’s future is bright in the spotlight.

Loretta Lynn

Growing up in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn learned a thing or two about persistence. When she launched her career as a country star, she worked hard for her keep, sleeping in her car the night before she made her Opry debut. Even though she already had 25 Top 10 singles to her name, it wasn’t until she had released her 18th album that she won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards in 1972, becoming the first woman to do so.

Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss has seen success most artists could only dream of. Since getting her first record deal at age 14, Krauss has won an astounding 27 Grammy Awards, more than any other woman from any genre and only to be outdone by Quincy Jones and Georg Solti. But apart from all the accolades, Krauss has been an important stalwart in reminding the world that bluegrass is worth holding onto. She was inducted as a member of the Opry at 21 years old, the first bluegrass artist to join the cast in 29 years.