George Strait and country’s music’s finest join Asleep at the Wheel to pay tribute to Bob Wills.
It’s safe to say Bob Wills has had an enormous influence on Asleep at the Wheel. The Western swing band’s March 3 release, Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, is the band’s third tribute to Wills’ music in their storied career.
The new album features 22 Bob Wills songs recorded by artists who have been heavily influenced by Wills’ music. Artists include George Strait, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley and many more. Newcomers to Western swing music, such as Jamey Johnson, also join the mix.
And, Vocalist Leon Rausch and sax player Billy Briggs, the last two surviving members of Wills’ legendary band, the Texas Playboys, lend their talents to the record.
Our favorite track is George Strait’s contribution, “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way).” Strait has always woven elements of Western swing music into his chart-topping hits throughout his career.
Ray Benson, the towering frontman of Asleep at the Wheel, recently talked with Rolling Stone Country about Strait’s love of Wills’ music.
“Regardless of what radio says, the Number One male country singer in America right now is George Strait and he plays this music,” said Benson. “It’s like if Beyoncé were singing Bessie Smith — which she oughta.”
You can listen to “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)” in the video above.