RAY BENSON is a towering icon of Texas music, an ambassador and survivor. Over the course of 50 years, he and his band Asleep at the Wheel carved out a hard-earned, Grammy-winning niche as the embodiment of the adventurous spirit of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.
Asleep at the Wheel did it by riding the country-rock and outlaw country wave of the late 1960s and early 1970s but with revivalists’ love of pure Western swing, country, rock ’n’ roll, jazz, boogie-woogie, and Texas blues. Benson’s bigger-than-life persona, sense of flair, and fun was the cherry on top.
Like Jerry Jeff Walker, Benson was an outsider. But the self-described “Jewish Yankee Hippie from Philadelphia” quickly became a beloved Austin institution. “Ray Benson: 50 Years” celebrates his contribution to Texas music, his wonderous archives, and his recovery this spring from COVID-19.