Ray Benson Started Thinking Big When He First Heard Asleep at the Wheel on the Radio
Ray Benson, a founding member of the country / Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, has been entertaining audiences for more than four decades. Since the group’s inception in 1970, Benson has overseen the more than 90 members who have come and gone; with Asleep at the Wheel, he’s also won a number of Grammy Awards, released more than 30 studio albums and charted more than 20 singles on the country charts.
Below, Benson recalls for The Boot where he was when he first heard Asleep at the Wheel’s music on the radio.
I was driving away from WSM Radio’s Grand Ole Opry in 1973. We were on the Hairl Hensley show: He had a late-night show there, and we took our little record up — or our big record up — it was an LP!
My thought was: Radio waves travel in outer space; I’m in the great infinity of space now. [Laughs] And what was really funny was, the album was stereo, and the station was mono still. We put out singles back then, and one side was stereo and one side was mono, and the radio station had to play the mono side. So all I heard was one-half of it. So you heard the vocals, and you heard whatever side was playing, so it was kind of surreal.
The song was “Take Me Back to Tulsa.” It was very cool. It was great!
This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.