MusicFest 2020 Debut
Growing up in Sabinal, Texas, Johnny was an A/B student, captain of his Junior High School Football team, a high school letterman and an altar boy at church. It wasn’t all innocent. In 1969, caught with friends stealing and barbecuing a goat, Rodriguez took the rap. It was this jail visit that gave Johnny his first break. His jailhouse singing enthralled Texas Ranger, Joaquin Jackson, who told a promoter about Rodriguez. The promoter, Happy Shahan, hired Johnny to perform at the Alamo Village, a popular south Texas tourist attraction and location of many well know movie sets. It was here that Johnny was heard by Nashville artists Tom T. Hall and Bobby Bare who both encouraged Johnny to fly to Nashville in 1971. 20-year old Rodriguez found himself stepping off the plane with nothing more than his guitar in hand and $14 in his pocket. Soon he was fronting Tom T. Hall’s Band and writing songs. Johnny went on to sign with Mercury, releasing his debut single, “Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through),” in early 1973. It climbed into the Top Ten and turned out to be the first of 14 consecutive Rodriguez singles to do so. His next two, “Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico” and “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me),” both hit number one. Rodriguez continued to top charts throughout his career. We’re happy to bring Johnny and his hits to a MusicFest stage for the 35th year celebration. Only at MusicFest.