By his own account,
Joe Grandee admits his first cover submission to True West was rejected. The editor told him it was historically incorrect. Since that day in 1956, Grandee has made it a point to get the details correct, and he has never looked back.
To beef up his reference material, he became a consummate collector of authentic clothing, guns, saddles and cowboy gear. Today, his collection of more than 5,000 artifacts is on permanent display at the Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West Gallery, inside the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In our 60th anniversary, nearly 60 years after he took our advice to heart, his art once again graces the cover of our magazine.
You can see more of Grandee’s work on his website,
joegrandeegallery.com. Photo Gallery
Joe Grandee Covers April 1963
is a 32-by-62-inch oil on canvas that was commissioned in 1986 by a Texas oilman fascinated with the 1874 Battle of Adobe Walls. The most famous shot in Western history, Billy Dixon’s 1,538-yard shot from his Sharps “Big Fifty” buffalo rifle, knocked an Indian off his horse dead during that battle. Three months later, Dixon and four others (one trooper was killed) earned the Medal of Honor for holding off the Indians for an entire day while holed up in a buffalo wallow. Grandee says, “What a man Dixon was. He is certainly on my list of Western heroes.” Billy Dixon and the Battle of Buffalo Wallow
is the only painting representing the Western art category in the book American Artists by Les Krantz. A favorite of Grandee’s, this 37-by-50-inch oil on canvas is part of his private collection. An Angry Clash of Steel
Joe Grandee Covers December 1960
Joe Grandee Covers December 1962
Joe Grandee Covers February 1961
Joe Grandee Covers February 1962
A third-generation Texan, Joe Ruiz Grandee is Castilian, French and English. He was born in Dallas on November 19, 1929. Grandee’s great-great-grandfather was a Spanish nobleman who came to Texas for “mysterious and romantic reasons,” according to one of the artist’s bios. Grandee’s great-grandfather (shown) came from Spain and settled in Corpus Christi, Texas.
. In central Texas during the 1880s, big ranch outfits wanted the grasslands to remain open and free, while smaller ranchers and farmers wanted to fence their properties. Fence-cutting was so widespread, ranchers claimed that finding the culprits was impossible. Ranger Aten single-handedly stopped the cutting by spreading rumors that he had trained men to build and set dynamite bombs along fences. This 18-by-24-inch oil is painted on masonite panel. Assigned to Stop the Fence Cutters, Sergeant Ira Aten, Undercover Texas Ranger, Company A, a Tribute
By our count, this issue’s cover is Joe Grandee’s 24th cover for True West.
Joe Grandee Covers June 1962
Joe Grandee Covers June 1965
depicts Capt. L.H. McNelly and Lt. Lee Hall chasing outlaws. The painting, a 38-by-52-inch oil on canvas, sold sight-unseen for $30,000 to a buyer from a 1980 magazine advertisement. Texas Rangers on the Border After Outlaws and Bandits – All artwork and photos courtesy Joe Grandee –
depicts a hunter, after the demise of the buffalo, ready to shoot and kill anything that moves. Although it appears to be an oil, this is a watercolor on an 18-by-24-inch board. Mean as Hell
Joe Grandee Covers October 1978
shows cowboys on the WYO Ranch near Kerrville, Texas, who “posed” with longhorns for Grandee, under orders from rancher Charley Shriner. Shriner, whose grandfather was a famous Texas Ranger, was a fan of Grandee’s work. This one is an oil on a 32-by-48-inch panel. Roundup Time Along Cotton Wood Creek
, a 30-by-40-inch oil on canvas painted in 1972, commemorates the 100th anniversary of Grand Duke Alexis of Russia’s buffalo hunt in Nebraska. In 1872, Gen. Philip Sheridan, Gen. George Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody rode along to ensure the duke’s success, but the duke’s aim was terrible; he fired six shots, missing buffalo from just 20 feet away. Then the duke emptied Cody’s pistol without success. Cody gave him his 50-caliber Springfield rifle and rode beside him to tell him when to fire. Finally, the Russian duke brought down a buffalo. The Grand Duke Alexis Buffalo Hunt
The president of Dr. Pepper Company bought this Grandee painting for $20,000.
In Corpus Christi, Grandee’s great-grandfather built the area’s biggest dance hall and saloon. The Grandee Saloon (the building in the center of the photo) was the only game in town for two generations because the family bought out any competitors. Grandee’s father and his 11 siblings grew up in a large house across the street.