Let’s be honest. There’s a reason the only time you see your old yearbook pictures is hanging in the halls of your mom’s house. Or those first publicity shots you and the band ever took. Some of those vintage snapshots can be pretty cringeworthy. We dug up some retro photos of your favorite Texas country stars, and boy do they look different.
Before he became the de facto father of the Texas country movement, Pat Green followed family footsteps to Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He’s had a roller coaster career since then, but he’s finally back in the scene making great music. No word if he plans on ever looking as snazzy as he did in this picture for Tech again, though.
Faithful Texas Rangers may not enjoy this early pic of country crooner Aaron Watson in his Astros garb. Though Watson has since shown his colors as a huge Rangers fan, his early allegiance clearly tilted towards their Houston rivals. He made up for it by later writing a song for the Rangers called “Baseball Time in Texas.”
You’re not going to find many pictures of the bearded baritone Cody Jinks, but here’s a real “collectors item.” These days, you hardly ever see him without his signature beard. Perhaps he just took some from the top of his head and moved it to his chin? This pic probably fell some time in the sweet spot between his punk career and his growing status as Texas troubadour.
Eli Young Band
This quartet met at the University of North Texas in Denton and have stuck together all the way through their major label success. A few excellent No. 1 singles later and they’ve graduated from Texas club hoppers in this picture to bona fide country hitmakers.
Cody Johnson is at the top of the Texas country mountain and already making waves on the national scene. His recent album Gotta Be Me peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country albums chart, and he did it as an independent artist. What’s his secret? Work ethic, obviously. Just look at the tiny star in the making fast at work on one of his many future Texas country hits!
Hayes Carll is quickly rising in the ranks of respected songwriters. He recently notched a Grammy nomination for his song “Chances Are,” which Lee Ann Womack recorded, and he just landed a cut on Kenny Chesney’s new album Cosmic Hallelujah. Of course, he’s a hell of a performer in his own right. But in this pic taken more than 10 years ago, the little-known Carll mostly just looks a little sleepy.
The Braun Family has been together through thick and thin. Willie and Cody Braun, who form the band Reckless Kelly, keep churning out some of the best Texas country around, including their recent Sunset Motel. They’ve since also kept up an amazing tradition at Floore’s with the “Braun Family Reunion.” But when they first moved to Austin from Idaho, they were looking for a chance to play just about anywhere they could.
Robert Earl Keen
This obviously isn’t a picture, but it’s as precious as the rest of them. Here’s Keen around 1990, playing his hit “The Road Goes On Forever.” He looks about 16 in this picture, but he’s actually twice that age. And yet he still sounds just like the classic REK we all know and love as one of Texas’ best storytellers.
Another Texas Tech grad, Wade Bowen has also been on the beat for a long time. He started in a band called West 84 (a tribute to a highway running to Lubbock) before eventually breaking out solo in 2002. And yes, he wrote a song with fellow Tech alum Pat Green. But he’s also become one of Texas’ best songwriters, marrying poignant lyrics with an accessible Texas country twang.