The Flatlanders

The Flatlanders

The Flatlanders are a country band from Lubbock, Texas founded by singers/songwriters/guitarists Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock.

They garnered little attention during their brief original incarnation (1972-73), but when the band's three core members later found success in solo careers, interest in the Flatlanders was rekindled, and the band has reformed a few times since.

Band history

The Flatlanders formed in 1972 in Lubbock, Texas, small West Texas city with a prominent artistic community, due in part to the atmosphere at Texas Tech University. Gilmore, Ely and Hancock formed the group, with Gilmore as the main songwriter and singer, with several other collaborators: their friends Steve Wesson, previously a non-musician, on autoharp and musical saw and Tony Pearson on mandolin and backup harmony, as well as Butch's brother Tommy Hancock on fiddle and string bassist Syl Rice.

The band's first recording project was produced in 1972 by Shelby Singleton, the then-owner of Memphis, Tennessee's famed Sun Studios. A promotional single, Gilmore's "Dallas", was a commercial failure, and the planned album, "All American Music", was all but scrapped, being released only in a small run on 8 track tape in order to fulfill contractual obligations.

The Flatlanders performed through 1973 before disbanding. By the end of the decade, however, Gilmore, Ely and Hancock had all found success as solo performers, and rumors of their earlier obscure collaboration began to circulate. In 1991, Rounder Records issued the 1972 sessions as "More a Legend Than a Band", now recognized as a milestone of progressive, alternative country, at once reminiscent of early country music from the 1930s and '40s, and with an otherworldly quality from Wesson's shimmering musical saw and Gilmore's mystical leanings, as on his song "Bhagavan Decreed."

The three musicians continued to reunite for occasional Flatlanders performances. In 1998 they contributed to the soundtrack of "The Horse Whisperer", and then in 2002 released their long-awaited follow-up album, "Now Again," on New West Records. In 2004 this was followed with "Wheels of Fortune", again on New West.

In 2004, New West released "Live '72" a live recording of the then-unknown country band performing at the One Knite honky-tonk in Austin, Texas.


1980 "One More Road" (1972 Recording)
1990 "More a Legend Than a Band"
2002 "Now Again"
2004 "Live '72"
2004 "Wheels of Fortune"

External links

* [ Boston Phoenix article]
* [ All Music Guide]
* [ 2005 film staring The Flatlanders]
* [ Official band website] The flatlanders

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