George Strait, Willie Nelson Joining Asleep at the Wheel for Band’s Epic 50th Anniversary Album

by Clayton Edwards

Asleep at the Wheel is celebrating fifty years with a brand new album. Half a Hundred years will be out on October first. What would a celebration be without a few friends? AATW is bringing some former members as well as some of country music’s biggest stars to the party.

For starters, Asleep at the Wheel have enlisted fellow Texans George Strait and Willie Nelson for a cover of the Bob Wills classic “Take Me Back to Tulsa.” That will doubtlessly be a highlight of that album. After all, AATW, Willie, and Strait are all fans of Wills and western swing. At the same time, they are all known to capture different aspects and eras of the Lone Star State’s brand of country music.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait until the album drops in October to hear Asleep at the Wheel team up with their Texan brethren to cover that Wills classic. If we get lucky, they may release it as a single before the record drops. However, that is yet to be seen.

Right now, though, you can check out the title track from Asleep at the Wheel’s anniversary album. It is one of the only tracks on the upcoming release to not feature any special guests. However, it does name-drop a few of their famous friends. Check it out below.

More About Asleep At The Wheel’s New Album

Wide Open Country reported that a conversation between Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson and Jamey Johnson inspired the title.

Benson talked to Johnson when they met up in Austin and he told him that AATW was celebrating fifty years as a touring band. Jamey replied, “That’s half a hundred years!” The rest, as they say, is history.

However, that interaction didn’t just inspire the title of the album. It also inspired the record’s theme. Half a Hundred Years will be a retrospective of Asleep at the Wheel’s five decades of making music. For instance, “Take Me Back to Tulsa,” was the first Bob Wills song they covered. Additionally, the album will feature a re-recording of the band’s biggest hit, “The Letter that Johnny Walker Read.” Lee Ann Womack will guest on that track.

Asleep at the Wheel couldn’t do a retrospective and only add one Bob Wills tune. The upcoming record also includes a cover of Wills’ classic “Spanish Two-Step.” This track is special. For one, it was the inspiration behind Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys’ breakout hit “New San Antonio Rose.” At the same time, it features appearances by two late Texas fiddlers. Jesse Ashlock passed in 1975 and Johnny Gimble died in 2015. However, the track features both musicians.