The song was released in late '59, and reached No. 1 on the country and pop charts in '60. It's a bittersweet love story about a cowboy who falls for a Mexican dancer:
The narrator admits that he is probably asking for trouble, noting that Feleena's dark eyes were:
In a moment of jealous rage, he ends up killing another cowboy for flirting with the woman he loved. He had to flee El Paso to the New Mexico badlands, but love forced him to make a fatal return to see Feleena.
He is greeted by a posse on his return, but continues his fateful ride to Rosa's cantina:
I still love to hear this song -- Robbins's great voice, the background harmony, and guitar work. Some versions include a horn, and along with the guitar, giving it a Tex-Mex feel.
The song earned Robbins a Grammy for Best Country & Western recording in 1961. He died in 1982, at the age of 57, following heart surgery.
Besides being an singer-songwriter, Robbins was active on the NASCAR circuit in the 1960s and '70s.
I've included a video of the Grateful Dead performing the song.
"El Paso" lyrics