Asleep at the Wheel feat. Junior Brown
“Comin’ Right At Ya!” Celebrating 50 Years of Asleep at the Wheel
In the history of music, an artist or band continuing to perform and create music at a high level for 50 years is a rare feat. In 1970 three friends, Ray Benson, Leroy Preston and Lucky Oceans moved to Paw Paw, West Virginia to start a band. After a mutual friend gave them access to his Uncle’s cabin on an apple orchard just outside of town, the 3 young friends started to “woodshed” and find others to join them in this adventure to play old style Roots/American music. After a trip to the outhouse, Lucky Oceans came up with the unconventional name that would stick with the band now for 50 years, Asleep at the Wheel.
Soon after the move to Paw Paw, Asleep at the Wheel soon landed a gig opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, DC and also met and played with Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen. A year later, they were coaxed into moving to the bay area in California by Commander Cody and band. While creating a name for themselves in the bay area playing clubs like The Longbranch and Freight and Salvage, the band’s big break came in 1972 when the band signed their first record deal after Van Morrison mentioned:
The Wheel Gets Rolling
“there’s some relatively unknown group around that I really dig.
Asleep at the Wheel plays great country music.”
Van Morrison Rolling Stone Interview (1973)
Their debut record, Comin’ Right At Ya, was released in 1973 on United Artists. Soon there after, Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm recommended the band move to Austin, Texas. After playing their first show in Austin at the famous Armadillo World Headquarters, the band never left and has made Austin their home for over 45 years. The release of Texas Gold in 1975 brought the band national recognition, with the top-ten country hit single “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read.” The band was also showcased on the first ever episode of “Austin City Limits” which the band has gone on to tape 11 episodes. The musicianship of Asleep at the Wheel has become “the stuff of legends.” Reuters pegged The Wheel as “one of the best live acts in the business.” The band has constantly toured at a national level throughout its history; with anywhere from 7-15 of the finest players Ray Benson could talk into jumping in the bus to play. The alumni roster is over 100 members, and includes an impressive list of musicians who have gone on to perform with artists such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Lyle Lovett, Merle Haggard, George Strait and many more.
Blue Gate Performing Arts Center
760 S Van Buren St
Shipshewana, IN 46565