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Happy 52nd Birthday to ZZ Top!!!
On this date in February 1970, ZZ Top played at a Knights of Columbus Hall on old U.S. 90, a gig booked by Beaumont radio personality Al Caldwell of KLVI, who would later also broadcast the band’s first recordings.
This would be the band’s first show together with their now-iconic lineup of Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard installed. Gibbons started the band in late 1969 and the pieces soon came together.
Yes, “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” the baddest blues-rock trio ever to ooze from Houston, cooler than a polar bear’s toenails, began its life together at a meeting hall of U.S. 90 of all places.
Bassist Hill mentioned via email that he was missing a key piece of equipment for that show.
“I had to borrow a bass for that gig. I didn’t actually own one. It was the Knights of Columbus Hall and though I didn’t meet any knights or royalty, there were a lot of cool people who came out to hear us play,” Hill writes.

The Beautiful Emily West
The "Yellow Rose of Texas” was a popular Civil War-era song about a beautiful woman that was responsible for victory at the battle that won Texas Independence from Mexico.
The Yellow Rose of Texas is also a legend about a beautiful mulatto woman that supposedly seduced Santa Anna on the eve previous and morning of his defeat by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. History remembers that woman as Emily Morgan — also known by her birth name, Emily West.
Emily, a woman of color, was contracted as an indentured servant to Colonel James Morgan, a wealthy Texas landowner.
It is also well known that there was a woman called Emily West captured by Santa Anna’s troops as she and other Texas residents fled from the Mexican onslaught outside of the revolutionists’ Texas capitol at Morgan’s Point, near the present-day city of Houston.
Emily was presented to Santa Anna (reportedly a womanizer and illicit drug user) and the general became enamored by her charm. It is because of their alleged amorous encounter that some historians believe Houston was able to defeat Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto. Numerous witnesses reported seeing Santa Anna emerge from his tent, pulling up his trousers as Houston’s forces attacked the Mexican Army.
Santa Anna’s being distracted could explain why the ragtag group of Texians, outnumbered 2:1 and largely inexperienced as a combined fighting force, were able to overwhelm the Mexicans. It took Houston merely 18 minutes to defeat his adversary and suddenly liberate the citizens of burgeoning Texas.
There is information that Emily West was confirmed as having been on the battlefield the morning of the surprise attack by Houston. Therefore, one can see why a story of a beautiful, flowery-skinned woman and a liaison with Santa Anna has developed into a romantic legend.
There exists that connection between Captain Morgan and Emily West, in the form of an application for a passport to the United States in 1837, which bears her signature. Emily West was thereby further documented within the archives as a real person in Texas in 1836.
But, as with many legends, there is a Texas twister! By coincidence, there appears to have been another Emily West — a second Emily West! Additionally, the historical record establishes these two Emily’s were both at Morgan’s Point, at the same time. It also appears that they both left on the same schooner traveling to the eastern United States in early 1837 after the end of the revolution. The biggest coincidence is that witness accounts described each of the women, referred to as Emily West, were “amazingly beautiful”.
When the Emily of legend was captured by the Mexicans, a Mexican national, Lorenzo De Zavala, is known to have just been commissioned as the first Vice President of the newly formed revolutionary Texas Government at Washington on the Brazos in March of 1836.
History remembers that Lorenzo De Zavala was married to a beautiful lady and her name was also — Emily West. Can’t make this stuff up.
A little back story. Before the Texas Revolution, in Mexico City, Lorenzo De Zavala and Santa Anna were acquaintances and political competitors while Mexico was entertaining the idea of emulating the United States’ path as a constitutional, democratic republic.
Santa Anna was president of Mexico and De Zavala was simultaneously the Governor of the State of Mexico. De Zavala asked Santa Anna to support a bill that would ensure Mexico had “separation of church and state,” as did the United States. Santa Anna told De Zavala he would support his bill, so De Zavala introduced it to the Mexican Congress.
However, Santa Anna betrayed De Zavala’s trust and backed the Catholic Clergy in their efforts to stop the bill, instead. This created a very personal divide between the two relevant, political contemporaries.
During previous, better times, Emily and Lorenzo attended society balls and parties along with Santa Anna and his wife. The De Zavala’s were most likely aware of Santa Anna’s notorious womanizing. Being so beautiful, it is not difficult to imagine that Santa Anna must have been enchanted by Lorenzo’s wife.
Because of the betrayal by the President of Mexico, De Zavala, a popular political figure, abandoned Santa Anna’s service and left Mexico to join the Texas Revolution. Santa Anna and De Zavala became bitter rivals.
Soon thereafter, Santa Anna left Mexico with a large military force on an extended march to Texas in the middle of winter, hell-bent on crushing the rebellion. Santa Anna ultimately engaged in hot pursuit of General Sam Houston and the fleeing Texas renegades across Texas, during what is now referred to as The Runaway Scrape.
Is it too far-fetched to imagine General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was, secondarily, in pursuit of the couple? Was Santa Anna chasing Lorenzo because he wanted to both eliminate his chief political rival, and earn Emily’s favor?
More importantly, history remembers that De Zavala was a very clever, intelligent and opportunistic man. Is it too lascivious that he and Emily (and Houston) could have conspired to have Santa Anna capture Emily so Houston could surprise the Mexican forces while Santa Anna was preoccupied with her? After all, the De Zavala’s knew Santa Anna as a womanizer and knew that he secretly desired Emily.
Could it have been “this” Emily West - De Zavala's wife - who Santa Anna captured at Morgan’s Point in April of 1836?
Historic Factoid: Remember Colonel James Morgan, the wealthy Texas landowner who contracted Emily West as his indentured “servant”? Well, Morgan had a "business partner" in his Texas enterprises, that fronted capital for most of his enterprises, that was also his good friend, and his name was, wait for it — Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala!
What are the chances that early Texas had two beautiful women named Emily West at the same time, known by the same people, and at the very same locations during such important events in Texas history?
One thing is for sure. Emily West, some have said, gave us Texas on a golden platter.
And, years later, a song would be written in her honor and she would be forever remembered as “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”
Emily West was a true Patriot of our Texas Revolution.
Popular Hit Song
In September 1955, for six weeks, Mitch Miller had a Billboard number one hit with "The Yellow Rose of Texas", and 13 months later, Miller's hit version was used for a key scene in the 1956 Texas-based film Giant.
Miller's lyrics used the words "rosebud" and "yellow" to indicate either the rose or the singer was a person of color. The 1955 song became a gold record. And achieved the #2 position in the UK and the #1 position in Australia.
This post is dedicated to all of Emily’s descendants living today in Texas and around the world who continue to carry the torch handed down to them by Emily D. West aka Emily Morgan - a true patriot of our revolution — to the great benefit of Texas.
Emily West, Thank You for your service, deeds of bravery and heroic devotion to our Republic — Texas!
Texas Heroines — Never Forget!

Sources:
• The Uncertain History of Emily Morgan
• Emily D. West, Wikipedia
• WEST, EMILY D. TSHA Texas State Historical Association

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