A country-rock performer from Beaumont, TX, Rick Henderson provided the "Dixon" in the rock combo moniker Mason Dixon, based on the half-and-half mixture of Northern and Southern roots in the band's founding membership. Henderson met Yankee Frank Gilligan, a native New Yorker, while they were both in college in the mid-'70s. The pair began gigging around the south of Texas together and by the end of the '70s had added a third member, Jerry Dengler of Odessa -- as in Texas, although had Dengler hailed from the Russian motherland the band might have had even more possibilities for geographical references.
With the help of some support musicians, the threesome tried to stay on tour; however, the cheesy bookings they came up with, or in some cases none at all, made it imperative to strip the lineup back down to the bare bones. The skeleton outfit was signed to Texas -- in this case an indie label and not the state itself -- after self-releasing a single that, like most music from that era in the Texas music scene, had something do with armadillos. A cover of "Every Breath You Take" by the Police was actually fairly successful for the group in 1983. Following several more regional singles, Mason Dixon released their first album in the mid-'80s. In the second half of that decade the group was signed by Capitol, providing the Exception to the Rule album in 1988. Henderson quit one year later and was replaced by Terry Casburn.