Rocks Off's Fantasy RodeoHouston Lineup

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Photos courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
George Strait in 1996
If you walk through Reliant Center, hanging from the ceiling are banners listing almost every musical performer RodeoHouston has hosted since the '60s. The names reflect the hallowed history of country and fleeting fancies of the pop-music world, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson mingling with names you couldn't pick out of a police line-up to save your life, like Color Me Badd and Exile.

Each rodeo season typically includes around 20 musical performers spread out over the course of the nearly month-long event. Looking at the list of names is daunting. Most of the best have passed away, while the others probably wouldn't fit into the current pop-country mode well enough to move tickets to the greater rodeo-going public.

The typical Rascal Flatts fan would probably shrug at names like Buck Owens and Roger Miller, and continue cackling and skinning the kitty-cat they just found on the street alive.

It's not easy making a list like this, because you have to leave people like Tony Bennett out. Nothing against the man, but we don't want to see him after watching children get butted off sheep for 15 minutes, no matter how sadistic we might otherwise be. Same for Engelbert Humperdinck, Billy Gilman, Bobby Goldsboro, and Bruce Hornsby. We are sure at the time they were all ace, home-run choices, and God bless them all.

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Charley Pride
We made a concession for the Highwaymen, the group featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson, though. Seeing how Willie plays at least once a year in Houston, and Waylon and Johnny are dead, we went with the Highwaymen instead of separate Willie and Waylon nights, but a full Cash night stands because it's Johnny Cash.

Freddy Fender's spot folds into the Texas Tornadoes night, because they would probably play Fender's songs anyway on the rodeo's revolving stage, and besides, our rodeo schedule would allow for almost two-hour sets, so there.

And the idea of being able to eat fried cheesecake, Oreos, and Twinkies while watching Elvis Presley is so American that everyone would be shitting Stars and Stripes for a week after the show.

The Highwaymen (1990, '92)

Dwight Yoakam (1993, 2004)

Bo Diddley (1997)

Garth Brooks (1991, '93)

The Jackson Five (1973-74)

Buck Owens (1970)

George Strait (1983-97, 2002-04, 2006-07)

Ray Charles (2003)

Location Info


NRG Stadium

1 NRG Park, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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Dude, I was there. Bo Diddley was not on the main stage. He played in the far corner where they put the little show band that plays while the clowns chase down the runaway bulls. Dwight Yoakam wore chaps, and not the kind working cowboys wear. More like the kind Midnight Cowboys wear... Strait had a great run, and Selena tore the roof off the sucker. Fogerty was way better than expected, and he sang some anti-war, anti-Bush lyrics that probably would have drawn boos had more people been able to understand them.

Jeffrey Williamson
Jeffrey Williamson

HEY! What about SONNY&CHER? jus jokin,but Iwas there 1973 or74?Man it was groovy&far-out in a groovy&far-out way! RIP SONNY,cher you go girl!! I GOT YOU BABE!!!!!!!

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

Saw the Neil Diamond show, pretty good from what I remember.


While he never played the rodeo, he would have been a sure bet to have played that stage, probably multiple times, before 2011 had he not died so suddenly at the peak of his career after winning a long battle with addictions. He did play the dome, just not at the rodeo and he died before Reliant was a glimmer in McNair's eye. That person I would include would be SRV. If he was alive today, his style of play was/is the perfect bridge between rock and country that country has become today. RIP Stevie...


I saw Bob Dylan in 2002 at the dome. The acoustics were terrible. Would it have sounded any better at Reliant?

Steve Gilbert
Steve Gilbert

Craig...I wish HLSR would hire you as their entertainment booking agent!!!!!!!!!!!


I was def not meaning the Astrodome show. The acoustics were bad that night, but then again, how is Dylan supposed to sound in a dead space like that? Let's get Rolling Thunder Era Dylan for my fantasy rodeo show.


Yeah, the acoustics are Reliant are actually decent. Not the best, but for a football stadium? Pretty good.

I wish ZZ Top would come every year. I've seen them (in various venues) 4 or 5 times, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of them.

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