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Inside the Texas Heart of Titty Bingo


YouTube commercials are the bane of the platform for all users just trying to watch a video. The endless ads and head-scratching relevance can be frustrating, no doubt. But occasionally, a hidden gem can spring from the sea of irritation. Over the past few months, the name Titty Bingo emerged sporadically through YouTube ads. A three-minute music video from an unknown band would heighten the temptation of smashing the skip ad when it appears. But a familiar name inspired viewers to stick around and watch a bit. Willie Nelson’s reputation as an outlaw legend needs no summarization, but what is unique is his feature with Titty Bingo. After appearing in their music video/YouTube ad for “Dead or Alive”, we learn that this is a band that’s been close to Nelson’s heart for many years. The vast majority of newly acquired fans just never knew it.

“If you haven’t seen us rock live at Farm Aid, Willie Nelson’s famous 4th of July picnic, or sweating at various tonks, dives, and fine drinking establishments over the last 20 years, you may not know our music.”, as co-founder Fred Fletcher has stated. But the weirdness of Austin, Texas couldn’t keep the bluesy rock talents of the band for too long. This past summer, YouTube brought the band a national rise as their collection of songs went viral. But where did this sensation originally start? For Fletcher, he can trace this musical spark all the way back to childhood years. As the nephew of Willie Nelson, Fletcher recalls the special moments that influenced his pursuit in music. “There was always music in the house”, he states, “and my mom was a piano teacher and played music and Willie would come in and he was kind of the crazy one. When I was in the first grade he brings Roger Miller over to our house, neither one of them were really that popular at the time but I knew something was going on.” Fletcher’s musical bond with his family grew from that moment on which led to years of working alongside his uncle on the road.


After working throughout the 70s as a roadie for his uncle, Fletcher branched out into starting his own business. His avocation led to the building of his own recording studio dubbed Arlyn Studios in 1984. The space generated several multi-platinum selling artists including Sublime, Los Lonely Boys, Andre 3000 and many others. But Fletcher still felt a calling as an artist as the years of working for Nelson inspired his dream of starting a band. That dream became a reality in 1988 after meeting local Texas musician Dahr Jamail who sparked the creation of Titty Bingo. The duo went on to add other local musicians over the next couple years with Derek O’Brien and Steve Bailey. The band enjoyed growing a sizeable audience with the addition of their biggest influence joining the group from time to time, Nelson himself. Their years together brought a mixture of country rock and bluegrass acoustic performances that Nelson mainly hosted. But lately, the group has expanded their audience outside their native home. As Jamail stated, “We’re updating our work from over the years and releasing songs digitally. Most of the music was recorded while we were just having fun. There was no pressure and the music reflects that. There’s hours and hours of tape and we anticipate a number of releases.” But what was most unexpected for the band was the viral responses that came from those same releases.

Through the collection of songs the band released, casual viewers on YouTube would become very familiar with them. The Texas sound and eclectic style drew much curiosity into finding out who this band was from the numerous ads. This aura produced millions of views for each song with their top single, “Texas Heart”, holding nearly 20 million views. It’s very strange times we live in with the age of Covid. But the reception that Titty Bingo is the latest excitement in Americana is wonder that the listener should behold themselves. Where the band follows-up from here is a stereotypical “time will tell” remark. Have a gander and embrace the craze that millions of others have fallen for with a huge thanks to YouTube ads. Who knew there would be a day when people where thankful for that?


Written by Trenton Luber