The History of Billy Bob’s Texas

By January 19, 2016Blog

Since 1981, more than 17 million people have entered the doors at Billy Bob’s Texas – the world’s largest honky tonk. With headliners like George Strait, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash, Billy Bob’s is an iconic venue for country music. It’s a focal point for the Fort Worth Stockyards – drawing locals and out-of-town visitors in to experience the entirety of the Stockyards’ colorful history, western-themed attractions and overall charm.

In 1980, Billy Bob Barnett and Spencer Taylor purchased an abandoned 100,000-square-foot department store. With the help of investment partners and some serious renovation, Barnett and Taylor opened the doors to Billy Bob’s Texas on April 1, 1981. The venue was an instant hit, drawing in major stars like Ernest Tubb and Marty Robbins. Unfortunately, financial mismanagement and poor tickets sales resulting
from a major ice storm led to the closing of Billy Bob’s in early 1988.

Barnett was committed to reopening as soon as he could find the money to do so. Thankfully, our dear friend, Holt Hickman (who sought to revive the Stockyards) and Steve Murrin invested in and helped reopen Billy Bob’s in November of 1988. The next year, Billy Minick became a partner, (and eventual CEO) and his wife, Pam Minick, was hired as the director of marketing.

Billy Bob’s hit the ground running. Their New Year’s Eve show featured Merle Haggard and Jo-El Sonnier. A fresh start called for new traditions. Billy Bob’s began capturing the handprints of its entertainers and displaying them on the “Wall of Fame.” Today, over two decades worth of handprints are displayed at the club.

Though Billy Bob’s is known for its incredible shows and major headliners, fans stick around for more than the music. With tasty cowboy cuisine, line dancing and two-step classes most  Thursday nights, and bull riding on Friday and Saturday, Billy Bob’s has a lot to offer.

Billy Bob’s is a big part of what makes the Fort Worth Stockyards so special. We’re thankful for Holt Hickman’s generosity and commitment to revive the Stockyards. We’re glad to be a part of it and hope to provide even more attractions and events through our work to preserve, protect, enhance and engage the “center of the universe.”

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