Austin in the 1970s (especially at the Armadillo World Headquarters) was known for its “ropers and dopers”—cowboys and hippies. Many articles about Willie Nelson mention his 1970s crowds of “ropers and dopers.”
On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali performed his “rope-a-dope” act in his fight against George Foreman, tiring the slugger while Ali rested on the ropes. While both terms “ropers and dopers” and “rope-a-dope” were popular at about the same time, it appears that “ropers and dopers” appeared slightly earlier.
“Dopers and ropers” is used less often.
Austin in the ‘70s
Austin was always a good town for all sorts of music, but in the 1970s, it became known for a country-rock mixture called “progressive country” (thanks to radio station KOKE) or sometimes “redneck rock” (from the title of a book by Jan Reid, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock). It was a country-fried sound that mixed West Coast psychedelic-rock influences with traditional cowboy ballads and honky-tonk numbers, and put ropers and dopers in the same room at the same time, grooving to the same music.
iMusic Contemporary Showcase - Willie Nelson
When his Nashville home burned down just before Christmas in 1970, Nelson took it as an omen and moved to the place his live performing career had actually found an audience-his home state of Texas. But this time around, he not only found fans at such stalwart roadhouses as Floore’s Country Store outside San Antonio, but also at the recently opened Armadillo World Headquarters rock palace in Austin. Uniting both the ropers and dopers, Nelson signed with Atlantic Records and recorded two albums to critical acclaim and his best sales ever: Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages.
T.O. Music: Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Joe Shaver: a life in song (Jul. 21/05)
Honky Tonk Heroes: Billy writes a masterpiece
In 1972, on Kristofferson’s encouragement, he played at the Dripping Springs music festival (an event soon to evolve into Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic). It was a significant precursor to a new direction in country music, and it embraced a then-unique mix of both performers, (including Loretta Lynn, Tex Ritter, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and Leon Russell) and of audience (hippies and cowboys – or as they soon became known in Texas, “ropers and dopers”). It was there he met Waylon Jennings, and the next big event in Billy Joe’s life was about to occur as a result.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
U.S. Boxing slang.
A tactic whereby a boxer rests against the ropes and protects himself with his arms and gloves, so goading an opponent to throw tiring, ineffective punches. Freq. attrib.
The strategy is particularly associated with Muhammad Ali (b. 1942), world heavyweight champion three times between 1964 and 1978, who is said to have coined the phrase.
1975 Sports Illustr. 26 May 74/1 Rope-a-dope had worked against George Foreman in Zaire; it is doubtful that the technique will ever work again against an Ali opponent.
1976 Newsweek 4 July 93/1 (heading) Rope-a-Dopes… Each time Mohammed escaped by scrambling to the ropes.
Rope-a-dope is a boxing fighting style used most famously by Muhammad Ali (who coined the term) in the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman. The idea is for the boxer to lie on the ropes of a boxing ring, conserve energy and allow the opponent to strike him repeatedly in hopes of making him tire and open up weaknesses to exploit for an eventual counter-attack.
Wikipedia: The Rumble in the Jungle
The Rumble in The Jungle was a historic boxing event that took place on October 30, 1974, in the May 20 Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). It pitted then world Heavyweight champion George Foreman against former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali, who became the second fighter ever, after Floyd Patterson, to recover the world’s Heavyweight crown.
22 June 1974, Fremont (CA) Argus, pg. 2, col. 6:
Ropers, Not dopers
EDITOR: To Newark Hippie. This is to let you know that there have been horses, cowboys and cowgirls in this area long before you were ever thought of. (...) We’re proud to be ropers, not dopers.
25 February 1976, New York (NY) Times, “A Brash, Young Houston Schizophrenic Over Its Culture” by James P. Sterba, pg. 39:
For bearded young cowboys who occasionally smoke marijuana with their Lone Star beer and who call themselves “ropers and dopers,” there are havens headlining such names as Willie Nelson or Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.
Rolling Stone- Album Reviews (February 26, 1976)
The key record here is Bobby Bare’s. Never so much a songwriter as an interpreter with impeccable taste, Bare has borne the burden of Shel Silverstein-written albums for a couple of years, even though Silverstein is acceptable only in the dose found here: two songs per LP. Now, Bare has released a concept album dedicated to “the Ropers and Dopers, the Red Neck Mothers, the Cosmics, the Drinkers and Thinkers...”
Cowboys and Daddys is a literary album.
4 March 1977, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, pg. 14A, col. 3:
Thus, depending on whom you talk to, we can break down humanity into nobles and serfs, proletarians and the bourgeoisie, ropers and dopers, infidels and true believers—the list goes on endlessly.
223. Long, Jeff. Angels of Light. NY 1987. 298p. Fiction, Ropers and dopers. First Edition. As New .....$35.00
Dallas Morning News
ARMADILLO HEADQUARTERS IS GONE, BUT POSTER ART LIVES ON IN AUSTIN
Author: Carlos Vidal Greth Austin American-Statesman, Associated Press The Dallas Morning News (DAL)
Publish Date: August 8, 1987
AUSTIN—The lamentably defunct Armadillo World Headquarters, linked in the popular imagination with the evolution of the Austin Sound, defies categorization. It was a recording studio, art gallery, subculture museum, entertainers’ guild, beer garden and, for hundreds of employees and habitues, a home away from home.
A converted National Guard armory, the ramshackle, new-age honky-tonk attracted straights and freaks, ropers and dopers. From 1970 to 1981, its stage mixed and…
20 July 1991, Titusville (PA) Herald, USA Weekend, pg. 5, col. 2:
He (Willie Nelson—ed.) continued to stage his annual small-town Fourth of July Picnics—concerts viewed by dopers and ropers in equal (and vast) numbers and by more non-paying than paying customers.
Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (Lancaster, PA)
LANCASTER, CA. May 16, 2006 – Officials of the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds gathered, today, to announce the exciting Robertson Palmdale Honda concert series line-up for the 2006 Fair. Performers will include Grammy winning rockers, Train; rock & roll hall of fame legends, Lynryd Skynryd; country western icon, Willie Nelson; retro-leaning, country singer Sara Evans; American Idol favorite, Josh Gracin and two acts yet to be announced.
More than an icon, Willie Nelson has become something of an American institution. For four decades, Nelson entertained generations of Americans, gathering multiple awards along the way. He was even feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. His Texas roots did not lock him into the conventional C&W mold. He joined “ropers and dopers” who turned honky-tonk, country, rock, folk, blues, and jazz upside-down and inside-out. Nelson even established himself on screen in films like “The Electric Horseman”, “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Songwriter”. Like a band of gypsies, Willie Nelson is “On the Road Again”, coming to the 2006 Antelope Valley Fair.
New York Times - Books (August 12, 2007)
“Sin in the Second City”
By KAREN ABBOTT
Published: August 12, 2007
Even in its frontier days, Chicago oozed vice rooted in liquor and gambling, with prostitutes and pimps following closely behind, tailed in turn by the hoodlums, pickpockets, burglars, con men, ropers, and dopers.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, November 17, 2007 • Permalink