Texxas Jam rocked the Cotton Bowl on July 1, 1978 in Dallas, bringing the summer mega-festival back to the Lone Star State after years of staunch local-government refusal to grant long-haired rockers permission to invade their hallowed stadiums. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, this being Texas, it all naturally came down to football.

ZZ Top had drawn 80,000 fans to the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium in 1974, leaving behind a ruined gridiron for the resident Longhorns to cope with as the college season got under way.

This unintentional act of “vandalism” was deemed so serious that it would be four years before the promotional team behind the already well-established California Jam could convince Cotton Bowl officials to take a chance on another event. Officially called the Texxas World Music Festival, it was nicknamed the Texxas Jam shortly there after.

The three-day festival brought a mix of rock and country artists to Dallas that Fourth of July weekend. The first day’s historic lineup of classic rockers – and the record-breaking heat that met them – has since gone down in rock and roll folklore.

As an understandably excited crowd of 100,000 or more filed into the Cotton Bowl that day, their ears already filling with the songs of opening acts, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Walter Egan (then enjoying his only hit, "Magnet and Steel"), Head East and a young Eddie Money, they were met by the hottest day of the decade.

By the time Van Halen, Journey and the Wilson sister-led Heart began taking their turns on stage, temperatures on the stadium floor had apparently tipped the 120-degree mark. Fire hoses had to be deployed in an attempt to help stave off mass occurrences of heat stroke among the attendees.

Luckily, it was going to take more than a little summer sun to scare away these rock-starved Southerners, who fought through the adverse conditions to the bitter end. Helped along the way by between-set comedy courtesy of Cheech & Chong, the day was capped by headliners Aerosmith and Ted Nugent.

The Texxas Jam would become a reliable summer institution for the next 11 years … and all it took was a little leniency from the football gods.
 
 

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