While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Jill S. Seeber

Listen to this artist

POINDEXTER, CLARENCE ALBERT [AL DEXTER] (1902–1984). Clarence Albert Poindexter, country singer known as Al Dexter, was born in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1902. While working as a house painter, Dexter began performing in local bars and clubs. In the early 1930s he put together a band to perform in the outskirts of Longview, Texas. He signed a recording contract with American Record Corporation in 1936. Dexter's "Honky Tonk Blues," which he wrote with James B. Paris, was the first country song to use the term honky-tonk. In the late 1930s Dexter owned a honky tonk himself, the Roundup Club in Turnertown, Texas.

Through his experiences there and in other roadhouses, Dexter developed the idea for his future hit, "Pistol Packin' Mama." Art Satherley, Dexter's producer, helped him by arranging a recording session with Gene Autry's backup band, for which Dexter had expressed admiration. Dexter recorded "Pistol Packin' Mama" and "Rosalita" with them at Columbia's Hollywood studios. The record was released in 1943 and in its first six months sold a million copies. The song "Pistol Packin' Mama," a controversial number due to its lyrics, remained at Number One on Billboard Magazine's best sellers chart for eight weeks. In 1944, when Billboard started its "Most Played Juke Box Folk Records" chart for country music, "Pistol Packin' Mama" was still at the top. "Rosalita" also had a week at Number One, and Dexter received such widespread recognition that he launched national tours.

From 1944 through 1948 Dexter recorded other country hits, including "Too Late to Worry," "Wine, Women and Song," and "Calico Rag." The popularity of his honky tonk sound decreased over time. Although he recorded other songs with King, Decca, and Capitol, he never had another hit. In 1971 Dexter was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He had invested in savings and loan, motel, and real estate businesses in Texas and died a wealthy man. On January 28, 1984, Dexter died from a heart attack at his home on Lake Lewisville in Lewisville, Texas. He was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.


Al Dexter.com (http://aldexter.com/), accessed September 22, 2011. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Jill S. Seeber, "POINDEXTER, CLARENCE ALBERT [AL DEXTER]," accessed June 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo38.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 3, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...