ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL FACTS:
Members: Ray Benson, Elizabeth McQueen, David Earl Miller, Eddie Rivers, Jason Roberts, David Sanger, Dan Walton
Genre: Country, Western swing
Hometown: Paw Paw, West Virginia
Albums: Comin' Right at Ya (1973); Asleep at the Wheel (1974); Fathers & Sons (1975); Texas Gold (1975); Wheelin' & Dealin' (1976); The Wheel (1977); Collision Course (1978); Served Live (1979); Framed (1980); Asleep at the Wheel (1985); 10 (1987); Western Standard Time (1988); Keepin' Me Up Nights (1990); Route 66 (1992); A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys (1993); The Wheel Keeps on Rollin' (1995); Ride with Bob (1999); Take Me Back to Tulsa (2003); Remembers the Alamo (2003); Reinventing the Wheel (2007); Willie and the Wheel (with Willie Nelson) (2009); It's a Good Day (2010)
Awards: 9 Grammy Awards, Member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame
Hits: "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read"
Other: Wrote and starred in "A Ride With Bob" a musical tribute to Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing.
For nearly 40 years, Asleep at the Wheel has been one of the most popular acts in country music. With a prolific career that includes more than 20 albums and 9 nine Grammy Awards, the band has certainly made a name for itself, and despite an ever-changing line-up, the band continues to record and perform for their rabid fanbase.
Asleep at the Wheel was formed in 1970 by lead singer Ray Benson and guitarist Lucky Oceans. After making their way from West Virginia to California, the duo released their first album in 1973. However, it wasn't until they moved to Austin, Texas, and released their self-titled follow up in 1974 that the band began to take off. Paced by a cover of the song "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie," the record was a relative success.
Throughout the 1970s, the band began to rise in popularity. Their 1975 album Texas Gold featured the tune "(The) Letter That Johnny Walker Read," and was a top 10 hit on the country charts. Their successful decade continued, and Asleep at the Wheel became one of the most well-liked live country bands around. In fact, in 1977, Rolling Stone magazine named them the Best Country Western Band of the year.
The 1980s were a tough time for the band. The lineup saw numerous changes, including the departure of Lucky Oceans. Still, Benson continued to lead the group and after somewhat disappearing from the country scene, the band released 1987's 10. The album received much critical praise, and went on to win the Grammy for Best Country Instrumental. The award seemed to reignite the band, and Asleep at the Wheel seemed poised for a strong 1990s.
Throughout the following decade, the band was an regular presence on the country music scene. They performed with the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Lyle Lovett while also reaching out to newcomers such as the Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw.
They continued the trend throughout the 2000s, and in '09 the band released what is perhaps their most well-known album, Willie and the Wheel
. The record reached number 13 on the country charts, and is remembered largely for the fact that all songs were collaborations with Nelson. With a seamless blend of traditional country and new material, the album is an indication of the indelible mark left by Asleep at the Wheel.