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Old 97's

Old 97's
The Old 97's performing under the stars on a warm Memorial Day weekend evening at the Levitt Pavilion in central Arlington, Texas in 2013
Background information
Origin Dallas, Texas, United States
Genres Alternative country[1]
Years active 1993–present
Labels Big Iron, Idol, Bloodshot, Elektra, New West
Associated acts Sleepy Heroes, Ranchero Brothers, Rhett Miller
Members Rhett Miller
Murry Hammond
Ken Bethea
Philip Peeples

The Old 97's are an alternative country band from Dallas, Texas. Formed in 1993,[2] they have since released ten studio albums, two full extended plays, shared split duty on another, and have one live album. Their most recent release is Most Messed Up. They are recognized as pioneers of the alt-country movement during the mid to late 1990s along with bands such as Uncle Tupelo, Drive-By Truckers, Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks, and The Bottle Rockets.


  • Career 1
  • Members 2
  • Discography 3
  • DVDs 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Initially a popular Dallas bar band, the Old 97's toured the country after releasing their first album, 1994's Hitchhike to Rhome and 1995's split EP release Stoned / Garage Sale with fellow Dallas band Funland on Idol Records. In Chicago, they caught the attention of Bloodshot Records and were signed to record their next album. 1995's Wreck Your Life brought them to the attention of Elektra Records,[2] who hoped that alt-country could be a new post-grunge fad. Lead singer Rhett Miller, born in Austin, later lived in New York City and Los Angeles. Many of the band's songs include local Texas references, with New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago appearing as well.

Most songs are written and sung by Miller, with bassist Murry Hammond picking up the vocals on one or two tracks per album. Hammond also handled a number of country covers, especially in the band's earlier years. Hammond also performs gospel at his local church. The band's 2004 album Drag It Up also includes a song written and sung by guitarist Ken Bethea, "Coahuila."

The band has never reached the level of success expected of them by the music press and was one of the acts purged from Elektra after the merger of Time Warner and America Online. In 2005, Blender magazine ranked the band's most successful single, 1999's "Murder (Or A Heart Attack)", as the 176th greatest song "since you were born."[3]

Their music has been featured in a number of hit movies and TV series, including The Break-Up ("Salome", "Melt Show", "Timebomb"), Ed ("Question", "King of All the World"), Scrubs ("Question"), Veronica Mars ("Adelaide", "Four-Leaf Clover", "The New Kid") and Scorpion ("Question").[4] With respect to The Break-Up, a key scene toward the end of the film takes place at a concert performance by the Old 97's.

Rhett Miller has recorded four solo albums, with 2002's The Instigator receiving substantial airplay on alternative-oriented radio stations. He toured with Neil Finn in 2004. Miller's second major commercial album, The Believer, was released in February 2006.[5] Murry Hammond's solo album, I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way, was released April 21, 2008.

The Old 97's have been heralded as a great live band, although they claim never to rehearse their act.[6] They included five live songs as a bonus disc on Satellite Rides, and released a live double CD set recorded at historic Gruene Hall in 2005, Alive & Wired.

Rhino Entertainment released Hit by a Train: The Best of Old 97's, an eighteen track compilation of songs from the band's beginnings through 2001, featuring liner notes and an essay by rock critic Robert Christgau.

Satellite Riders is faux "tribute band." It's actually an alias the band performs under when contractual obligations prevent them from using the Old 97's name.[7] The recording of "Timebomb" from the live album Alive & Wired was made available for download along with other alt-country songs for the music video games Rock Band and Rock Band 2.[8]

Their next studio project, The Grand Theatre, was released in two volumes. The first The Grand Theatre, Volume One was released on October 12, 2010.[9] The second The Grand Theatre, Volume Two was released on July 5, 2011.[10]

In 2013 the band released an EP containing two tracks with vocals by country music legend Waylon Jennings entitled Old 97's & Waylon Jennings. Rhett Miller called the previously unreleased tunes with Jennings "the band's 'holy grail.'"[11]

The band's tenth studio album, Most Messed Up, was released on April 29, 2014.


Murry Hammond
  • Rhett Miller – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Murry Hammond – bass guitar, occasional lead vocals, backup vocals
  • Ken Bethea – lead guitar, backup vocals, lead vocals on "Coahuila"
  • Philip Peeples – drums and backup vocals


Year Album Billboard 200 Label
1994 Hitchhike to Rhome Idol Records
1995 Stoned / Garage Sale (with Funland)
Wreck Your Life Bloodshot Records
1997 Too Far to Care Elektra Records
1999 Fight Songs
2000 Early Tracks Bloodshot Records
2001 Satellite Rides 121 Elektra Records
2004 Drag It Up 120 New West Records
2005 Alive & Wired
2006 Hit by a Train: The Best of Old 97's Rhino Entertainment
2008 Blame It on Gravity New West Records
2009 Wreck Your Life... And Then Some:
The Complete Bloodshot Recordings (Vinyl Only) [12]
85 Bloodshot Records
2010 Mimeograph EP New West Records
The Grand Theatre, Volume One
2011 The Grand Theatre, Volume Two
2012 Too Far to Care: Expanded Edition Omnivore Recordings
2013 Old 97's & Waylon Jennings
2014 Most Messed Up 30 ATO Records



  1. ^ Keyes, J. Edward (27 August 2012). "Outside Lands 2011: The 25 Acts You Need to See".  
  2. ^ a b "Old 97's Biography". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  3. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born: 151-200".  
  4. ^ "IMDB". Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  5. ^ "Music". Official Community of Rhett Miller. Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  6. ^ "Q&A: Murry Hammond of Old 97's". Retrieved 2008-02-16. 
  7. ^ LAVASSAR, MA'CHELL DUMA (2008-08-27). "Satellite Riders".  
  8. ^ "Rock Band Gets a Second Dose of Country Plus a 3-Pack From Jimmy Eat World".  
  9. ^ "on that note...: Round up of Old 97's New Songs". 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  10. ^ "Old97's » TGTV2 Cover Revealed". 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  11. ^ Langer, Andy (2013-09-28). "For Old 97’s, a Collaboration That Never Ages". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  12. ^ "Discography". Official Community of Old 97's. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 

External links

  • Old 97's Official web site
  • Official Rhett Miller Website
  • Hit By A Train, Fansite
  • July 2009 Interview with L.A.Record
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