Asleep At the Wheel releases new version of “Route 66” for 50th-anniversary album

Western swing band Asleep At the Wheel last week released an album that marks its 50th anniversary, “Half of a Hundred Years,” that includes a new version of “Route 66.”

The new cut of “Route 66” includes guest vocalists Leroy Preston and Johnny Nicholas to accompany the band’s longtime lead singer, Ray Benson. Preston was an early member of the band, and as was Nicholas.

Asleep At the Wheel performs the Bobby Troup song at virtually every show, and Benson has said it’s his favorite tune.

Asleep At the Wheel also played a prominent role in two albums that paid tribute to the Mother Road — “Songs Of Route 66: All-American Highway” and “More Songs Of Route 66: Roadside Attractions.”

Both albums featured various artists doing the singing, and the latter included cover artwork from the late, great Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire.

Remarkably, Asleep At the Wheel has been playing gigs longer than the western-swing innovator that inspired it — Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Wills died of a stroke in 1973 after about 44 years as a performer.

(Images courtesy of Asleep At the Wheel)

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