AUSTIN, Texas — One of the most famous marquees in the city is paying tribute to an Austin icon.
The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue has changed its marquee to say, "Farewell to a honky tonk hero James White 1939-2021" to honor Broken Spoke founder James White, who died Sunday morning at age 81.
White's wife and daughter confirmed to KVUE Senior Reporter Tony Plohetski that he died at his South Austin home Sunday morning. He had been suffering from congestive heart failure.
Austinites and country stars alike have been paying tribute to White since the news of his death broke. Some left flowers outside the Broken Spoke and others changed the sign in the front of the dance hall to say, "God Bless You James M. White 1939-2021."
White founded the Broken Spoke in 1964. The beloved dance hall has played host to country superstars since it opened, including George Strait and his Ace In The Hole Band. Strait – who featured the bar on the cover of his album, "Honky Tonk Time Machine" – is among the many who have shared memories of White.
Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel spoke of White to Plohetski, saying he is heartbroken by his death and that he "was one of a kind." Benson credits White and the Broken Spoke for giving rise to the band's national fame.
Music journalist Rush Evans said White's choice of fashion would always catch the eye.
"[White] looked real dapper in his scarf and his cowboy hat and his big belt buckle and his really cool shirt. He always had a cool Western shirt," Evans said.
In October 2020, KVUE spoke to White about the Broken Spoke and the work he had put into it for most of his life.
"I did it because of my love for country music and the people and the music. It really draws people in and that's a big part of the Broken Spoke and it's also a big part of Austin, Texas," White said.
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