Revisiting the 1980 Texxas Jam

texxas jam

In July of 1969, one day after my sixth birthday, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left their footprints on the dusty surface of the moon. In the recesses of my memory, there is a grainy image of something happening on our family’s television screen, something historical. We watched, like millions of others, but for the most part, the magnitude of the event was largely lost on me. What can I say? I was six years old.

Less than a month later, rock music had its moonwalking equivalent when a swarm of rock and roll enthusiasts packed Max Yasgur’s dairy farm to experience the greatest music festival of all time. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to Woodstock. As I said, I was six. But less than ten years later, The Texxas World Music Festival, informally referred to as the Texxas Jam (yes, that’s with two “x’s” for twice the jams), began an annual run of summer festivals that would last more than a decade. In Texas, if you wanted to be one of the “cool kids,” attendance was mandatory.

Launched in Dallas’s famed Cotton Bowl in 1978, the Texxas Jam featured jaw-dropping lineups every year. I always marked my calendar with the hopes of convincing my parents to let me go, and all my begging and pleading finally paid off in June of 1980. The line-up: The Eagles, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, April Wine, Sammy Hagar, Point Blank, Le Roux, and, wait for it…Christopher Cross. A general admission ticket cost a whopping $16.50. To put that in perspective, a little math is in order. My job at the local movie theater paid $2.26 an hour, so the cost of a ticket would require the equivalent of a full eight-hour day of filling buckets with popcorn and splashing Delaware Punch into over-priced cups. In 2020 dollars, with inflation, that ticket today would run just over $50, an absolute bargain by any standard. As Jeff Spicoli would say (two years later, but who’s counting?), “Hey bud, let’s party!”

When I was finally able to hold the ticket in my hands, I cradled it like an injured butterfly. It was beautiful. The Dallas skyline rose against a rainbow-colored sunset, and below it, a packed Cotton Bowl, all set inside a cutout of the great State of Texas. The illustration was topped off by a beam of light shooting toward the heavens from the festival stage that read, “Texxas World Music Festival ’80.” This would be my Woodstock, my chance to see some of the coolest rock bands out there. For a mere $16.50, I was in for the adventure of a lifetime.

The 1980 Texxas Jam was a long time ago, and memories are a tricky thing. They often fade into vapor or become memories of memories. Forty years and the frailty of the human mind notwithstanding, let’s relive my experience at “The Texxas World Music Festival.”

The Crew

Dallas was experiencing a heatwave for the record books. By summer’s end, the scorching Texas sun had roasted the good citizens of the metroplex with triple digits 69 times. I was sixteen years old and headed to the Texxas Jam; a cut-off pair of Levi’s and brightly colored tank-top would be my rock and roll uniform. If SPF70 had existed back then, the notion that I might need some never occurred to me.

My fellow festival warriors were my brother Mike and cousin Danny. We had never been to the Cotton Bowl, located on the Texas State Fairgrounds, so we piled in Danny’s Datsun and left our hometown of Denton by mid-morning. The opening band, a local group called Savvy, was scheduled to start at 11 am. Savvy had won some sort of “battle of the bands” and therefore had earned the honor of opening the show. To prime our rock engines, we alternated jams broadcast by KZEW and Q102. Both radio stations had hyped the show for weeks. I was never so amped from anticipation as I was on that ride to the stadium. My day was full of possibilities.

Savvy, Le Roux, Point Blank/Position: Bleachers, 60 Yard Line

The drive, parking, and walking to the stadium were uneventful. Why wouldn’t they be, right? But when I first glimpsed the iconic entrance of the Cotton Bowl’s main gate, my instinct was to run toward it like kid sprinting to a birthday party. The broad concrete facade rose skyward like a monument more befitting our nation’s capital than Dallas, Texas. A rather sparse crowd made its way through the structure’s columns and arches and onto the playing field, which was covered by a tarp to protect the artificial turf underneath. Initially, we opted for seats in the bleachers. It was going to be a long day and, I suppose, we were pacing ourselves. A massive stage rose from the south endzone, larger than I could have imagined. It was so big! Eventually, the crowd would swell into a smoldering mass of 80,000 partying rock fans, but for now, the opening acts brought out only the most enthusiastic fans. Mike, Danny and I were very enthusiastic.

Here’s what I remember from the first three bands. Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Interestingly, Savvy never took the stage. No one really missed them. But I’m sure that if you’re in a band set to open the Texxas Jam, getting bumped from the lineup would be a massive bummer. According to a local news report, the Eagles didn’t want them to play. What a gut punch. Le Roux and Point Blank played their jams, and I’m sure they did a fine job. Point Blank would score a modest hit the next year with Nicole. The song sounds so…1980.

Christopher Cross/Position: Bleachers, 40 Yard Line

One of these things is not like the others, and that thing would be Christopher Cross. In 1980, the smooth sounds of Sailing and Ride Like the Wind were pop music sensations. However, his songs were more at home in an elevator than inside the Cotton Bowl that day. Cross’s set was tight, and his music sounded just like the record. I remember thinking how cool it was to hear Ride Like the Wind live and in person. To be clear, I was digging Christopher Cross. But here is where the story shifts to equal parts myth and urban legend. It’s been said that Christopher Cross was booed off the stage by the hard rockers in the audience wanting more jam and less lamb, but I never heard any booing. Were there pockets of discontented fans giving Cross the business? Probably. But I never heard anything like jeers from where we were sitting. The legend also says that Cross became so overwhelmed by the heat (temperatures on the floor neared 115 degrees) that he tossed his biscuits backstage.

To satisfy my curiosity, I recently emailed Cross’s management because, well, I wanted to ask him what had happened that day. A representative for the artist politely replied, “Sorry, Christopher is passing on all media requests as he recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome as a result of Covid-19.” Here’s to a speedy recovery, Christopher.

Sammy Hagar/ Position: Field Level, 30 Yard Line

Thank heavens for free water fountains. A soda cost a buck twenty-five! Mike, Danny, and I had ventured into the growing throng of humanity at field level, and the afternoon heat was becoming incredibly brutal. There was no escaping it. Oppressive. Debilitating. Overwhelming. Forty years later, the temperatures we endured that day is one of my most vivid memories. Thankfully, during each set change, a dude packing a firehose blasted the crowd with thousands of gallons of water. When the water hit my skin, I was convinced I could hear a faint sizzle.

The water cannon created several memorable reactions from the crowd. The sea of human bodies followed the stream, swaying toward the moving spray just hoping to catch as much water as possible. One guy near me had a perfectly good joint ruined by the water. Apparently, he wasn’t paying attention when the fire hose washed over him, and I thought he might cry. Several young ladies, hoping to draw the water cannon in their direction, climbed on the shoulders of their boyfriends and, um, flashed a certain pair of body parts. My introduction to both weed and boobs happened that day at the Texxas Jam. My sixteen-year-old self was enormously grateful.

Sammy Hagar/Copyright Vernon L. Gowdy III

Sammy Hagar is a rock showman, and he put on a clinic that day. Wild hair catching what little breeze was available inside the Cotton Bowl, Hagar spent about as much time in the air as he did on the stage floor. Wearing white shorty-shorts and a bright red, “Trans Am” t-shirt befitting of the moniker, The Red Rocker. Hagar’s set, although full of enthusiasm, was bereft of any hits. He hadn’t had any yet. Whatever songs that might come to define Sammy Hagar were still a couple years away. I’ll Fall in Love Again would be released in early 1982. Your Love Is Driving Crazy and Three Lock Box would get airplay later that same year. I Can’t Drive 55 would reach number 26 in 1984. So yeah, I dug Sammy’s show, how could I not? But to be honest, I needed to hear some songs I knew, and I needed to get closer to the stage.

April Wine/ Position: Field Level, 20 Yard Line

God bless April Wine! No disrespect intended to the previous acts, Hagar in particular, but the crowd wanted and needed a few sing-along jams. April Wine served them up by unleashing Roller and I Like to Rock, songs that garnered airplay locally by the two AOR stations mentioned earlier. I can’t overstate the importance of KZEW and Q102 to so many fun-loving, mullet-wearing, Camaro-driving teens like me who lived in the metroplex during the golden age of rock radio. Almost every vehicle parked in the Denton High School parking lot had one or both of the stations’ stickers on their car. Mine was centered on my 1978 Camaro’s back window, and I kept spares in my glove box.

April Wine’s set was fantastic. Hard rock delivered by pros. If you haven’t listened to any April Wine in a while, find some. Although the Canadian band enjoyed massive success back home, their success moved south on a more modest scale. The band played a pivotal role at the 1980 Texxas Jam, and thanks to their set, the festival shifted a bit. Like the lyric in I Like to Rock says, “We get high on rock ‘n’ roll,” and the fans in the crowd were inhaling. With the main headliners still to come, the crowd was primed. There would be more weed, more firehose, and more blistering heat to endure. More importantly, there would be more music for the masses.

Foreigner/Position: Bennigan’s

We missed Foreigner’s entire show. All of it. Every smash hit Lou Gramm belted out that day was lost on us. Forty years later, missing Foreigner at the Texxas Jam is one of my life’s biggest regrets. Frankly, I don’t want to dwell on this, but it was hot as hell and we were starving! We left the stadium (incredibly, it was allowed) to find some grub. In our defense, the stage changeovers were taking forever, so we took a gamble that we could leave and get back in time to hear the set. Sadly, we lost that bet. My consolation prize was a tasty Monte Cristo inside a delightfully air-conditioned Bennigan’s. Shameful.

Cheap Trick/Position: Field Level 30 Yard Line

Our temporary rock reprieve did have an unplanned benefit. All three of us were refreshed. We were fed and, more importantly, hydrated. The sun had started to dip behind the top of the stadium and shade was slowly creeping toward the playing field. After reentering the Cotton Bowl and learning we had completely missed Foreigner, we resolved to make up for it by working our way as close to the stage as possible. It was tough going inching our way through the chaotic crowd, but we managed to snag a decent position near the center of the field, and we settled in for Cheap Trick.

By 1980, Cheap Trick had blossomed into one of the hottest bands in the country, bar none. They had risen to rock royalty by releasing Cheap Trick at Budokan followed by Dream Police. The audience at the Texxas Jam was catching them at just the right time. The band was operating at peak performance. Between Rick Nielsen’s stage antics and Robin Zander’s killer vocals, Cheap Trick pretty much stole the show. At the time, no one had seen a rock star dress like Nielsen, or change guitars as often. Drummer Bun E. Carlos looked like an accountant. By the time Zander belted out Surrender and Dream Police, the crowd was losing its collective mind. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts over the years, and Cheap Trick’s set at the 1980 Texxas Jam was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. How so? Because it was such a gas! Everyone was having a blast dancing and singing and watching the spectacle up on the stage. After the band had done their thing, the crowd stood half exhausted and fully in disbelief. Three decades later, I would see Cheap Trick play a club date in Austin, Texas. They hadn’t lost a damn thing.

Rick Nielsen, Joe Walsh/Copyright Vernon L. Gowdy III

Eagles/Position: Right in front of the stage

The crowd, worn out from a day of hard-partying and incredible heat, was getting restless. Did I mention it was hot that day? Thankfully, it was dark, and the night gave our pink skin a reprieve. But where were the Eagles? It had been a long day, and everyone was ready for the headliner. No one knew it at the time, but the band’s cohesion was threadbare. The Eagles’ set at the Cotton Bowl would be one of their last before they split. At the moment, at least, none of that mattered. The fans in the Cotton Bowl were tired and irritated.

Adding to the discomfort of the folks on the field was the condition of the area in front of the stage. The field level was a disaster. The fire hose had sprayed rivers of water on the crowd all day, and that water wasn’t draining. The tarp prevented the water from going anywhere. Thousands of fans stood ankle-deep in water mixed with beer, trash, food scraps, and probably a little pee. Disgusting doesn’t do it justice.

Heroes rise from the shadows. On that evening, under the stars of a Dallas sky, an anonymous man with a rather large knife saved the day. He slipped a blade through the tarpaulin protecting the synthetic football field below and started slicing. After he’d made his way across the field, the crowd did the rest. In a show of cooperation for the ages, we all helped roll away the tarp and along with it, the nasty flotsam and jetsam that was making us twitchy. Pristine, dark green Astroturf became our playground. I had never stood on Astroturf before that moment. It felt quite nice. Luckily, by removing the tarp, we had repositioned ourselves even closer to the stage. Awfully close. My brother Mike, Danny, and I now stood near the very front of the crowd. Out of the tens of thousands of fans waiting for the Eagles to show up and play, only a handful were closer to the stage than we were at that moment. I looked at Danny. Danny looked at Mike. Mike looked at me. We had done the impossible. Moments later, the stage went dark and the hair stood up on the back of my neck.

The Eagles strolled onto the stage and set themselves in position. Stage lights lit up the band and the opening notes of Hotel California eased through the massive array of speakers. The stadium erupted, then quickly quieted as if shushed by a stern librarian. In front of me stood Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh. Those guys were famous, superfamous, and there they were. So close to me. The stars in the night sky took notice as well. I stood, spellbound, taking in one hit song after another. Lyrics I knew by heart washed over me and, at that moment, connected everyone in the audience.

The band, spaced evenly across the front of the stage, drum kit in the rear, played their songs to perfection. There was no “stage show.” No one was jumping around or yakking it up between songs. Pyrotechnics did not fill the air. Confetti never exploded over the crowd. In a world now filled with complex stage productions and back-up dancers, the Eagles just stood there and played music: Already Gone, Take it Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, Life in the Fast Lane, I Can’t Tell You Why. The list goes on and on. An epic concert requires epic music because the songs are the show. It’s as simple as that. The songs are the show. Forty years later, I still go to concerts for the songs, a lesson the Eagles taught me that night at the Texxas Jam. It’s a night that my pals, all 80,000 of them, would never forget.

-Bill Flanigin

Photos: Feature “firehose” photo of Texxas Jam, Sammy Hagar, Rick Nielsen/Joe Walsh copyrighted by Vernon L. Gowdy III (check out his book on the Texxas World Music Festival); photo of ticket courtesy of the author



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30 comments on “Revisiting the 1980 Texxas Jam

  1. Cliff Cherry

    Great stories! Loved the Bennigan’s part, even if you guys didn’t at the time.

    And too bad about Cross – would be interesting to know if he still remembers it what with all the shows he’s done over the years. And hope he’s recovering too!

    • Bill Flanigin

      I heard from one of Cross’s band mates. He kinda hinted that it wasn’t “food poisoning “ which was the claim at the time. He also took exception to me calling them elevator music, which is fair. But…I was comparing them to the rock in the Cotton Bowl on that day! My memory wasn’t perfect on some details, but I plead old age.

      • Bruce Kreamelmeyer

        Hey Bill! I was at that show too. Me and a buddy drove over from Lubbock, and I don’t remember a whole bunch of that day, either. I DO remember it was hot as hell, and he & I were in the upper deck to the right of the stage. I also think I remember Sammy Hagar playing the song Red, and passing out on stage during a solo. After a minute or so, the crew came over to help him, then he jumped up and started playing like he never missed a beat! The crowd went wild!!! Good times, man! 40 plus years later, that’s one of the best concerts I ever went to.

      • Hey Bill,
        I attended that concert as well. I was 17 years old. I went with my boy friend Jeff. His friend Jeff, my brother and his friend. We drove from Elysian Fields, Texas. We got there as the gates were opening. I do remember the heat, sun, beer, and the smell of weed and cigarettes in the stall air. We were in the stands on the 50 yard line. Thank you for bringing that day back to life again.
        Tina H.

  2. Wish I’d been at this one with ya, Bill. I grew up in suburban South Houston and am about four years older than you it sounds like. I did however see all of these Texxas Jams below, all but one at The Cotton Bowl, the ’82 show under The Astrodome being the only exception.

    Quick notes-

    I, too, went with my brother to the very first Jam along with several friends-we skipped out on the late Eddie Money as we were starving but stayed in the Cotton Bowl to eat. I would never see him live and regret missing his performance to this day. I remember hearing “Baby Hold On” as we chowed down.

    All acts were so good, with exceptions of Dallas’s own Steve Miller who forgot lyrics and cut songs short and Styx who lacked life and had awful sound (as they also did at a Reunion Arena show I’d seen previously). And finally, what is the deal with with poor Ft. Worth’s Savvy?? Bumped @ the last minute from not just one but TWO Jams??? That’s just WRONG, man!

    1978 (July 1) – Texxas Music Festival, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas (General Admission – $13.00)
    · Blackstone (Winner of the State-Wide “Battle of the Bands” for opening slot on the 1978 Texxas Jam)
    · Walter Egan
    · Van Halen (second appearance in Texas)
    · Eddie Money
    · Atlanta Rhythm Section
    · Head East
    · Journey
    · Heart
    · Ted Nugent
    · Aerosmith
    · Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush
    · Cheech & Chong
    Notes: Ted Nugent joined Aerosmith on stage for a rousing rendition of “Milk Cow Blues”. For comic relief, Cheech & Chong entertained the crowd between a couple of acts. The temperature reached 104 degrees that day (over 120 degrees on the field). To protect the Cotton Bowl, they covered the surface with black tarps. Over 100,000 people were in attendance on the hottest day of the decade. The concert had hose sprinklers around the field edge to cool people off, and they hosed the crowd down with firehoses from the stage. First aid stations were busy.
    This was the first southern stadium rock show since ZZ Top played to 80,000 people at UT Austin on September 1, 1974 and tore up the field. In the aftermath of the ZZ Top UT show there was never supposed to be another stadium rock
    show in Texas again, an informal prohibition that lasted all of four years.

    1978 (July 23) – Cotton Bowl Jam 2, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
    · Bob Welch
    · Little River Band
    · Steve Miller
    · Fleetwood Mac

    1979 (June 9) – Texxas Music Festival, Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas (General Admission – $15.00)
    · TKO
    · Sammy Hagar
    · Nazareth
    · Van Halen
    · Boston
    · Heart
    · Blue Öyster Cult
    Notes: The order of appearance on this bill was TKO/Hagar/Nazareth/Van Halen/Boston/Heart/BOC. Blue Oyster Cult headlined this show. TKO was managed by the same management as Heart at the time, which is the reason for their appearance on the bill. KTXQ-FM Q-102 simulcast much of this concert throughout the day, with TKO, Hagar, Nazareth, and portions of Heart’s show aired live. Van Halen’s set was not broadcast, and KTXQ had to unplug their sound equipment for Boston’s set, which they did before Heart took the stage. As a result, only a portion of Heart’s set was aired, the sound being broadcast from microphones placed around the Cotton Bowl.

    1982 (Dallas-June 12, Houston-June 13)
    · Journey
    · Santana
    · Sammy Hagar
    · Joan Jett
    · Point Blank
    Notes: It was a hot day that day. Sammy Hagar had a guitar stolen backstage at the Cotton Bowl show; it was returned later that day. However, Hagar vowed to never play it again after it had been handled by someone else, and lit it on fire on stage. Right before Santana’s set the house music mix played their hit “Winning”, the lead singer and other band members came onstage and motioned to the sound mixers to try to get the song cut off, afterwards the band did not play “Winning” during their set.

    Correction: Sammy’s guitar was stolen from a previous Dallas show. Was recovered and Sammy held it until the Texxas Jam. Where he explained the incident and destroyed the guitar The guitar was never set on fire. Sammy smashed the guitar onstage and threw it into the crowd.

    1983 (Dallas – June 18, Houston – June 19)
    · Styx (Kilroy Was Here tour)
    · Sammy Hagar
    · Triumph
    · Ted Nugent
    · Uriah Heep
    Notes: Sammy came on right before Styx at the end. Ted Nugent and Rik Emmett joined Sammy Hagar on stage in Dallas for their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock “n Roll.” Tommy Shaw recalls these shows as being some of the worst of his career. He claims to have feared for his life as his band was performing nothing but the rock opera “Killroy was here” after some of the best hard rock bands of the day had performed. (This was the tour that essentially ended Styx.)

    • Bill Flanigin

      Would have been a party brother! I’m surprised about Steve Miller. My brother plays with him occasionally (Lincoln Center/NYC) and he is an absolute perfectionist! Styx…bummer! I love that band. In fact, I’ve seen then 4-5 times in the past 5 years or so. The Mission was excellent!
      Eddie Money: In my book-underrated. Love him.RIP Eddie.
      Thanks for reading!!
      Let’s bring back The Jam!!

  3. Absolutely bring back The Jam, my friend. I saw Styx a couple years ago with REO and Don Felder. Great show all the way around and Styx definitely redeemed. 🙂

    • Bill Flanigin

      I saw that show near Austin. Total blast! See all these bands while you can.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Hey Bill, great article! Maybe, I am wrong but I remember the Cotton Bowl didn’t allow alcohol inside so if someone really wanted a beer they had to go outside the Cotton Bowl to get one. Also, the people at the gates were good at finding hidden booze and the trash cans were full of empty bottles at the gate.

  5. Your Memory of the Eagles seems a bit Foggy to me. The Helicopter and their Entrance you Don’t Remember that? Where the helicopter hovering had the people thinking really? Can the Eagles be in there…. Come on. That was the most iconic start up to a set I had ever witnessed. Once that Heli turned and B lined it out…..There were the Eagles on Stage, at Dusk. The Hotel California Glitter on the back cloth to the stage/

    I went to Jams 1,2,3 and the one with Van Hagar and Dio in 86. The First two we drove up from San Angelo, and would camp out waiting in line to be one of the first in the Cotton Bowl when they opened the gates.

    Jam 1 they had Fair Park going all night before with a Midway that was buzzing with people and the battle of the bands. The day after was the Country Groups. We did not stick around for that.

    I remember Jam 1, Van Halen played early in the AM. Shade if you were where we were next to the stage. Crazy, but very true Jam 1 there was shade near the stage as the morning sun still had not climbed to Flame Throwing Position for Van Halen. They stole the show. Never been part of a more Frenzy enduced performance than that particular VH set. The four I attended were all scorching HOT. Total Upper body peel after standing out baking all day in that Texas Summer Sun.

    Saw VH in Midland in 1979 at the Chaparral Center. Small Coliseum. The fence barricade was plywood. Which broke from everyone pushing. Thought I was going to get my neck broke. Nice gash scar on the palm wrist area though.

    • Bill Flanigin

      A helicopter? It was late, dark, and loud in the Cotton Bowl. No one I was with heard or saw anything like that. But hey-it was 40 years ago.

  6. Alison Montana

    I was also at this Texas Jam, I lived in East Texas and drove 4 hours to get there. I had good sense to buy tickets for under the shaded part of the stadium, I brought my binoculars and felt like I was on stage with them all.

    When Christopher Cross was on stage people did boo, and they were throwing things at him, I even remember the look on his face, that’s when he got mad and left, I felt a little guilty for laughing, and I liked his music but it didn’t seem to fit the day. By the time the Eagles came on many people had left, some passed out and you are right about the floor it was a mess,

    In the time before the Eagles came on I started walking around the stadium, I found money, roach clips and random items scattered everywhere. I walked up to where I found many rows of seats to the left of the stage that were abandoned, so I sat very close to the stage, Joe Walsh even walked over and made eye contact with me while he was singing.

    When they went off the stage, I ran up and went back stage just hoping to see them or get an autograph, but they were gone, People kept handing me stuff saying, “Take this to the truck” I just grabbed it and said OK, and then put it down a few steps later, I guess they thought I was a roadie, I ran all over back stage but no luck seeing them, but it was still fun.

    That was the greatest day, and you did miss it missing Foreigner.

    My funniest memory was a girl with crutches, I knocked her down twice, the crowd just pushed me into her. Once even on the stairs. I always wondered who she was. Silly I guess.

  7. James McCutchan

    I was there that day about 15 feet from the Chris. He was sick with flu. He almost left then changed his mind during the performance. I remember his bass/backup vocal guy clearly. He was enjoying himself immensely and bowed up and you could tell he thought he’d arrived and was at the top of the world. This was the first time I’d heard “Sailing”. Chris had fast fingers on that guitar…like every other performer of that day. All n All a great day.

  8. I too was there, young and dumb at 17 yrs old. It was hot, that’s for sure. I remember small sprinklers along the edge of the stands spraying down onto the sideline. I was so hot I just sat down and soaked myself until I cooled off enough to move. I was so stoned I hope it was sprinklers lol. Something else I remember (or was seeing things)…I had made my way to the stands around the 30 yd line on the other end of the CB. From that vantage point the stage looked like a stereo receiver with the stacks of speakers looking like the old big home speakers. When the Eagles came on stage and Hotel California started, I’d swear the lights shining on the speakers were eagle wings. Again, I was fried from the heat and stuff being passed around but it was the best time I ever had with so many strangers. Thank the Lord I survived that day.

    • Ruth A Sauls

      Yes, the set up did look like two big speakers, and when the Eagles came on the scene on the fabric lit up, looked like a path, and the hotel California cover art to me. but I was sitting very close by that time. I hope it was sprinklers too. LOL

  9. Fantastic! This brought back so many memories for me of my journey to 1986 Texas Jam! Thank You!

    • Karla Qualls

      I couldn’t stop reading this article. I was there and I remember the unbearable heat and humidity and waiting endlessly for the Eagles to come out and play

  10. I was at the 1978 and the 1980 show . The 1980 show I sat up in the stands . I never got up all day and my boyfriend just brought me cokes to drink . Didn’t seem like there was bottled water to buy in those days .. seems like there was an intermission before the headliners started . We got up to leave for a while and when I got up to the top of the arena I started seeing black . I sat down on a bag of ice at a concession stand . And then I got really sick and ran in the bathroom . Apparently I was in there for a long time and the boyfriend came into the ladies restroom to retrieve me and he said I thought you were dead 😹 we went back to our hotel where I vomited for a long time and laid down for a while . The boyfriend thought I was done for the day and I said no I’m going back to see the Eagles. Thank goodness for fast recovery when you’re young . I had seen the Eagles for the first time that February in OKC and they were really good . I thought that there in the Cotton Bowl that night that Don Henley sounded really hoarse and was more yelling than singing . I’ve seen them about 10 more times since then all better but it was still a good show . I think it was at the 1978 Texxas Jam was when I saw the stand outside of the arena with a cardboard sign on it that said “Quaaludes $5” the cops were just walking by and never saying a word . It looked like a Charlie Brown lemonade stand

  11. Amazing article. I was at the 1980 Texxas Jam at the Cotton Bowl. Our seats in the stands near the stage were too high to benefit from the fire hoses and too low to get any shade from the upper deck. I went to hear the Eagles, weltered in the heat all day not realizing the Eagles weren’t playing until very late that evening. But it was worth it. Three acts stood out in my mind after that long hot day. Sammy Hagar with the most energized performance I’ve ever seen from any musician ever, April Wine for their music, and the Eagles. What an awesome day! Thanks for the memories.

  12. Spent the last year Dallas Texas way couldn’t get much higher!

  13. I saw your ticket stubb and it prompted me to go see if I could find mine. My stubb number is 13183 which is only 22 tickets difference. Crazy huh? Also guessing by your field placement we had to be standing just a few feet apart during mist of the show. I was not on the floor for Foreigner either. I was in the stands about the 40. Just had to cool off some. Man it was hot. Came back down and inched up front for the rest of it. Anyway enjoyed your article. Brought back some great memories. I went to every Jam except 1981 and 1983. Good times for sure.

  14. I came across this article as I get ready for only my 2nd Eagles concert this week in Austin. This was my third and next to last Texxas Jam. Band list was much shorter than prior years and set changes took forever. We were on the field for every show – start to finish. I don’t think I could make a single set in that heat today. The 1980 show was the hottest. If sunscreen existed, I didn’t know about it. (Suntan lotion, yes, but sunscreen?) My nose peeled in chunks in the days to follow. I don’t remember Cross being boo’ed, but I do remember kinda wanting him to get offstage so we could get on with the next act. Just too mellow for the Jam. Joe Walsh announced his candidacy for President and you never would have known that the band was in turmoil. Looking forward to the upcoming show! Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  15. Hi Bill. Chris Cross had recently moved to Colorado I think it was, and voiced insults toward Texas and Texans just before this show, so along with the more mellow (but pleasant and talented) songs, we just didnt like HIM. Now checking his website which is majorly narcissistic and his wiki, I see nothing on that or even his moving away. It was all pre-internet and I suppose a history he does not want to resurrect.

    I and friends had completed a rough freshman year at UTA and made both ’78 Jams, and ’79. 1980 I spent an unusually cool summer in Santa Cruz, Ca then rode my new Yamaha back across the desert in late August and could not drink enough water coming down 287! Yall had it HOT! All great times but specific memories fade together. I do remember in 78 VH announcing themselves to the world here! We already had the album blaring on our Pioneer home system. An interesting side note, a Cali cousin recently told me she was at the first ever VH performance at a large house in Pasadena, Ca in ’74. They had just changed their name from “Mammoth” and it is disputed when DLR joined the band, but that was the first official as VH all together.

    My first major concert was also the Cotton Bowl, 1975 about July 6th? A day after my 16 birthday. Montrose, Trapeze, Eagles then the Stones with Billy Preston. Was not called a Jam but set the standard. And ruined me, after that I was hard to impress.

    Also we used to go to Savvy’s Castle in Arlington, then after they moved to E Lancaster in Ft Worth (and called it Savvy’s Palace) we poor students would go the the lunch buffet that moved into the old Castle to have our once every two days meal. We were at the Palace often, they were great guys always doing benefits etc and of course talented musicians, squeezed out of two Texxas Jams by a group manager with a big grudge.

    Thanks for your write up! Bless!

  16. Great reply, Tex T. I was at that first Texxas Jam, as well. The Stones AND Eagles in ’75 at the Cotton Bowl? Huh-WUT??!! Also, what group was bounced from the Jams now? Rock on, Tejas hermano!

  17. Nancy paul

    I think l may know you l grew up in Denton Texas l was born ln 1963

  18. Just came across this article while working tonight. I was a whopping 17 years old when my friend and I drove up from Ft. Hood, Texas where our dads were stationed. I remember being on the field and how brutally hot it was. We weren’t far from the stage. We smoked everything that came by us, which was quite a bit. I hadn’t heard of Sammy Hagar at the time but his performance captivated me so much that I immediately bought his “Street Machine” album and several more over the years! I, too, missed Foreigner’s set, not all of it, but about half. The combination of weed and extreme heat hit me so hard that I passed out. I woke up to people poking me and the medical folks putting me on a stretcher. I overheard some dude saying I must’ve dropped acid, but all I had done was toke on the stuff being passed around. I was looking up from the stretcher as we weaved through the crowd, but all the folks staring down at me embarrassed me enough to close my eyes. They took me to one of the medical tents that was at the far end of the field and I stayed there until I was finally able to stand up and join my buddy again. There were quite a few weed/heat casualties in that tent! We made our way to the stands after that just trying to get some reprieve from the heat and watched the rest of the concert from there. The people who were around us were voicing their displeasure for Christopher Cross from what I remember. I felt bad for him because I owned his album (still do) and I really liked it, but it wasn’t a good fit for the rest of the lineup. It makes you wonder what the promoters were thinking at that time. I had seen the Eagles back in February of that year at the Special Events Center in Austin. They were excellent both times. Thanks for your story of your experience and shaking up my own memories. I’ve been to many, many concerts over the years and I’m not done yet, but that one really was a blast!

  19. I was in the military, stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Ft Worth at the time.
    My buddy and I bought the $25 VIP tickets (covered seating).
    But the morning of the concert, our squadron called an exercise (war preparedness training) and we couldn’t make it.
    This article does a great job of telling me what I missed.

  20. Wanda Gardner

    I was there. About the same parts of the field too.

  21. Stephen Farrar

    Very cool that your article is still stirring up and rekindling fond (sometimes foggy) memories even in September of 2023. I did not attend that Jam but thanks to your words, I feel as if I was there and could picture it perfectly. My first Jam was the year before with TKO, Hagar, Nazerath, Van Halen, Boston, Heart and Blue Oyster Cult. Being only 14 at the time, my friend’s mother dropped us off and we were listening to Q102 on the way and learned that we had missed TKO and Hagar, which at the time didn’t bother me because I never heard of either of them. Our seats were on the lower deck just outside the cover of the upper deck on the east side of the field. I had Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog album and really like it so was excited to see them play. Meh. Don’t get me wrong, they were good but didn’t knock my socks off. Van Halen was great and that is what I had expected after seeing them almost a year earlier in Fort Worth at Will Rogers Coliseum when they opened for Black Sabbath and actually stole the show, even though our seats were behind the stage and my friends mother was with us, but I digress. Back to the Jam, I seem to remember that it took forever between Boston and Heart and even longer between Heart and BOC . It had been hyped that BOC had a killer laser show and fireworks but I vaguely remember lasers (could be pot induced memory) and don’t remember any fireworks at all. I fell asleep on the steps in the aisle for a bit during BOC and can’t remember what time it was when the concert finally ended but it was really late into the night. Now here is the part I remember distinctly…since my friend’s mom dropped us off, my dad was going to pick us up “in the front of fairpark” somewhere. I was thinking how will we ever find my dad? But sure enough when we walked out of the gates there he was standing right in front of us!! How??? No cell phones back then and there was not a specific set time for the concert to end and all these people yet there was my dad. To this day I don’t know how he did that but I was so grateful and will never forget it!! Thank you again for the pictures and memories!

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