Asleep At the Wheel
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Asleep At the Wheel
Asleep at the Wheel
Asleep at the Wheel 15April2008.jpg
Asleep at the Wheel performing in San Diego, California
Background information
Origin Paw Paw, West Virginia, United States
Genres Ameripolitan, Texas country, western swing
Labels Bismeaux, DreamWorks, Capitol Nashville, Epic, MCA Nashville, Shout! Factory
  • Ray Benson
  • Katie Shore
  • Eddie Rivers
  • David Sanger
  • Dennis Ludiker
  • Josh Hoag
  • Connor Forsyth
  • Jay Reynolds

Asleep at the Wheel is an American country music group that was formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia[1] and is based in Austin, Texas. The band has won nine Grammy Awards since their 1970 inception, released over twenty albums, and has charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. Their highest-charting single, "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read", peaked at No. 10 in 1975.


Beginnings to Austin

In 1969, Ray Benson and Lucky Oceans (Reuben Gosfield) co-founded Asleep at the Wheel in Paw Paw, West Virginia, and soon after they found themselves opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC.[1] A year later, they moved to East Oakland, California, at the invitation of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.[2] After being mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine by Van Morrison, they landed a record deal with United Artists.[2][3] In 1973, their debut album, Comin' Right At Ya, was released by United Artists. At the request of Willie Nelson, they left Oakland for Austin in 1974.[1]

1974 - 1979

In 1974, they released their second album, Asleep at the Wheel, with a cover of Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie", which was their first single to hit the country charts. The following year had the release of Texas Gold as the group's third album with the top-ten Country hit single "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read". In addition, they played on PBS's Austin City Limits, where they have since performed a record-setting 10 times.[1] In 1977, the band was voted Best Country Western Band by Rolling Stone and was awarded the Touring Band of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. They also went on tour with Emmylou Harris in Europe.[1] The following year, they made a cover of Count Basie's song "One O'Clock Jump".[2] Also in 1980, they appeared in the movie Roadie, along with Meat Loaf, Blondie, and Art Carney. By the end of the decade, the band recorded their first live album, Served Live, at the Austin Opera House.[1]

1980 - 1989

The 1980s became a turbulent decade for the band. After moving to MCA, co-founder Lucky Oceans left the band, and Chris O'Connell left in September 1986 due to her pregnancy. Asleep at the Wheel gathered a large amount of debt that required them to work on commercials and movie soundtracks. This band produced the soundtrack for the film Liar's Moon.

In 1985, the band released a virtually ignored self-titled album.[2] By the late 1980s, Ray Benson had done some producing, allowing the band a second chance with Epic Records. In 1987, the band released 10, which won them their second Grammy for Best Country Instrumental, helping to launch their comeback. The album also had contributions from legendary fiddle player and onetime Texas Playboys member Johnny Gimble.[2] The following year, the band released Western Standard Time, which won them another Grammy for Best Country Instrumental.[2] The late 1980s also had the growth of Jann Browne as a solo vocalist in the group; she would later embark on a solo career on Curb Records.[4]

1990 - 1999

The band moved to Arista Records and released the album, Keepin' Me Up Nights. Soon after, the band had turnover as old members left and new members entered. Among them was former solo singer Rosie Flores, who joined in 1997.[5] In 1991, Ray Benson directed the music[1] and co-starred in the movie Wild Texas Wind with Dolly Parton.[6] In honor of the 66th anniversary of Route 66, the band launched the Route 66 Tour.[1] In 1993, the band released the instant hit[1]A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys to much critical acclaim with several guest musicians.[2] Two years later, the band celebrated their 25th anniversary[1] by releasing The Wheel Keeps on Rollin.[2] In 1999, the band and DreamWorks released Ride with Bob, as their second tribute album to Bob Wills. This album became an instant hit and garnered the band two Grammy wins, one for Best Country Instrumental,[1] and the other for Best Package Design.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, Ray Benson "didn't just enlist the obvious Wills fans" in this tribute album to Bob Wills like Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Lyle Lovett. He also brought in some of country's young lions the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, and Lee Ann Womack, some pop stars", including Shawn Colvin, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and fellow country preservationists such as Dwight Yoakam.[7]

2000 and onward

In 2000, the Dixie Chicks were nominated for an award for Vocal Event of the Year for "Roly Poly" with Asleep at the Wheel from the Country Music Association.[8] That same year, the band toured with Bob Dylan and George Strait. Benson recorded a tribute to Wills and Texas swing music, including Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, the Dixie Chicks, and Willie Nelson.[1][9] They were scheduled to play at the White House on the fateful September 11, 2001.[1] In 2003, the band released Live at Billy Bob's Texas, and by the end of the decade, the band had released two more albums: Reinventing the Wheel, an entirely new set of songs, including a collaboration with The Blind Boys of Alabama, and a two-disc set Kings of Texas Swing.[10] In 2007, their second Christmas album was released, Santa Loves to Boogie.

Asleep at the Wheel received six Austin Music Awards for their efforts in 2007, including Band of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (Benson), Country Band of the Year, Record Producer of the Year (Benson), Male Vocals of the Year (Benson), and Acoustic Guitar Player of the Year (McQueen).[11]

"The Letter That Johnny Walker Read" is played on the K-Rose radio station in the 2004 PlayStation 2 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.



Year Album[2] Chart Positions[2] Label
US Country US CAN Country
1973 Comin' Right at Ya -- -- -- EMI
1974 Asleep at the Wheel -- -- -- Epic
1975 Fathers & Sons [1 Side] -- -- --
Texas Gold 7 136 -- Capitol
1976 Wheelin' & Dealin' 19 179 --
1977 The Wheel 31 162 --
1978 Collision Course 47 -- 19
1979 Served Live -- -- --
1980 Framed -- 191 -- MCA
1985 Asleep at the Wheel [1985] -- -- --
1987 10 16 -- -- Epic
1988 Western Standard Time 34 -- --
1990 Keepin' Me Up Nights 73 -- -- Arista
1991 Asleep At The Wheel-Live & Kickin' Greatest Hits 73 -- -- Bmg Special Product
1992 Route 66 -- -- -- Liberty
1993 Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys 35 159 17
1995 The Wheel Keeps on Rollin' -- -- 3 Capitol
1997 Back to the Future Now - Live at Arizona... -- -- -- Sony
Merry Texas Christmas, Y'All 75 -- -- High Street
1999 Ride with BobA 24 -- -- DreamWorks
2003 Take Me Back to Tulsa -- -- -- Evangeline
Wide Awake!: Live in Oklahoma -- -- -- Delta
Live at Billy Bob's Texas -- -- -- Smith Music Group
Remembers the Alamo -- -- -- Shout! Factory
2006 Live from Austin, TX -- -- -- New West
2007 Reinventing the Wheel -- -- -- Mega Force
Kings of Texas Swing (CD/DVD) -- -- -- Cleopatra
Santa Loves to Boogie -- -- -- MRI
Asleep at the Wheel with The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra -- -- -- Independent
2009 Willie and the Wheel (with Willie Nelson) 13 90 -- Bismeaux
2010 It's a Good Day 57 -- --
2015 Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys 11 187 --
Willie Nelson and Friends (with Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker and Shirley Collie) 39 -- -- Cracker Barrel


Year Single Peak chart
US Country CAN Country
1973 "Before You Stop Loving Me" -- -- Comin' Right at Ya
"Daddy's Advice" -- --
1974 "Don't Ask Me Why" -- -- Asleep at the Wheel
"Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" 69 --
1975 "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read" 10 32 Texas Gold
"Bump, Bounce, Boogie" 31 47
1976 "Nothin' Takes the Place of You" 35 30
"Route 66" 48 47 Wheelin' and Dealin'
"Miles and Miles of Texas" 38 --
1977 "Trouble with Lovin' Today" -- 34
"Let's Face Up" -- -- The Wheel
1978 "Ghost Dancer" -- -- Collision Course
"Texas Me and You" 75 --
1979 "Too Many Bad Habits" -- -- Served Live
1980 "Don't Get Caught Out in the Rain" -- -- Framed
1987 "Way Down Texas Way" 39 -- Ten
"House of Blue Lights" 17 12
"Boogie Back to Texas" 53 --
1988 "Blowin' Like a Bandit" 59 --
"Walk On By" 55 * Western Standard Time
"Hot Rod Lincoln" 65 *
1989 "Chattanooga Choo Choo" -- --
1990 "Keepin' Me Up Nights" 54 63 Keepin' Me Up Nights
"That's the Way Love Is" 60 83
1991 "Dance with Who Brung You" 71 --
1992 "Route 66" (re-release) -- -- Route 66
1993 "Red Wing" -- -- Tribute to Bob Wills
1994 "Blues for Dixie" -- --
"Corrine, Corrina" (with Brooks & Dunn) 73 --
1995 "Hightower" -- -- Wheel Keeps On Rollin'
1996 "Lay Down Sally" -- 70
2007 "Am I Right (Or Amarillo)" -- -- Reinventing the Wheel
"--" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released to that country
* denotes unknown peak positions

Other charted songs

Year Single US Country Album
2000 "Roly Poly" (with Dixie Chicks) 65 Ride with Bob

Music videos

Year Video Director
1987 "Way Down Texas Way"
"Boogie Back to Texas" Bob Small
1988 "Hot Rod Lincoln"[12][13] Wayne Miller
1990 "Keepin' Me Up Nights"
1993 "Old Fashioned Love" (with Suzy Bogguss)
1995 "Bring It On Down to My House"
"Lay Down Sally" Mark Shuman
1997 "Christmas in Jail"
1999 "Cherokee Maiden"[14] Dan Karlok
2001 "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens"[15] Eric McDonald
2009 "Hesitation Blues" (with Willie Nelson) Zalman King


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Asleep at the Wheel Official Site". Archived from the original on October 10, 2007. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Allmusic - Asleep at the Wheel". AllMusic. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ Grissim Jr., John (1972-06-22). "Van Morrison: The Rolling Stone interview". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ Deming, Mark. "Jann Browne biography". Allmusic. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Wild Texas Wind". Retrieved . 
  7. ^ [2] Archived December 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ [3] Archived May 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Morning Edition (1999-10-14). "Western Swing". NPR. Retrieved . 
  10. ^ "Kings of Texas Swing". Retrieved . 
  11. ^ "Austin Music Awards". Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved . 
  12. ^ "New Videoclips" (PDF). Billboard. November 12, 1988. Retrieved . 
  13. ^ "CMT : Videos : Asleep at the Wheel : Hot Rod Lincoln". Country Music Television. Retrieved . 
  14. ^ "CMT : Videos : Asleep at the Wheel : Cherokee Maiden". Country Music Television. Retrieved 2011. 
  15. ^ "CMT : Videos : Asleep at the Wheel : Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens". Country Music Television. Retrieved 2011. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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