Don Walser: The Pavarotti of the Plains

Don Walser is the Pavarotti of the Plains

Nicknamed the “Pavarotti of the Plains” by Playboy magazine, Don Walser was one of the earliest crossover artists, drawing fans from country music traditionalists to punk rockers. His music crossed over so well that at one time he and his band was the opened for the rock alternative band “Butthole Surfers.” Don became a roots musician at the tender age of 11 and formed his first band, “The Panhandle Boys” when he was 16 years old, sharing bills with another Texas legend, Buddy Holly.

Early Years

Interestingly, Don Walser chose not to pursue his music career full-time. When the rock and roll scene began to take over, Don chose to remain in Texas, joining the National Guard as a mechanic. Eventually, Don became an auditor for the guards while performing during his off hours. Don’s group “The Texas Plainsmen” played on a popular radio show every week.

Love of the Past

One of the things Don became well known for was his ability to sing older, obscure songs by country music legends such as Eddie Arnold and Bob Wills, but giving the song his own personal touch, along with the ability to yodel in the style of past musicians. Don arrived on the Austin music scene in 1984 when he was transferred by the National Guard where the alt-country music scene was taking shape.


After arriving in Austin, Don put together the Pure Texas Band, TJ McFarland, the well-known talent scout, discovered Don in 1990. Don devoted himself fully to music after his retirement in 1994. In 1996, he opened for Johnny Cash. He signed with Watermelon Records, and produced his first album “Rolling Stone from Texas” that Ray Benson of “Asleep at the Wheel” produced. Don has received numerous awards, including the National Endowment of the Arts lifetime ”Heritage” award in 2000 as well as playing at the Grand Ole Opry in 1999 and 2001, and he joined the Pure Texas Band at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2003, Don Walser retired due to health problems. On September 20, 2006, Don Walser died from complications of diabetes.

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