Biography: Ray Wylie Hubbard

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You can't talk about Outlaw Country, Texas Country, or Americana without mentioning singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard!

Ray Wylie Hubbard is known for his skills as a songwriter, performer, and even screenwriter!


Hubbard was born in 1946 to Royce and Helen Hubbard, a teacher and an employee of Western Union respectively.  They lived near Hugo, Oklahoma, on a ranch where a young Ray spent his days fishing and exploring the country side.  He was eight when the family packed up and moved to Dallas as his father was following a job opportunity.  He ended up going to high school in Oak Cliff, a suburb on the south side of Dallas, which is where he would learn guitar and befriend another young musician named Michael Murphy.  Although he would enroll into the University of North Texas after graduating school in 1965, he would form a folk/blues/rock band called Three Faces West and play as far away as Red River, New Mexico, during the summers.  Hubbard started making a name for himself on the music scene, most noticeably making friends with another future big name musician: Jerry Jeff Walker.  Three Faces West eventually split and Hubbard struggled both as a solo artist and as a member of a short lived group called Texas Fever.  Luckily, things were about to change significantly.


Hubbard's live shows are especially acclaimed.  He has performed and recorded worldwide.


Hubbard had written about half of a song that Jerry Jeff Walker had fallen in love with.  At Walker's insistence, Hubbard completed the song (even coming up with about half the verses on the spot during a telephone conversation).  The song, called "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother", ended up on Walker's 1973 Viva Terlingua! album and became a huge hit, instantly making Hubbard a big name on the progressive country circuit.  Ironically, Hubbard had not intended to finish writing what he had considered a throwaway song, so its success caught no one off guard more than him.  Regardless, he continued his songwriting and formed another group called the Cowboy Twinkies and signed to Warner Brothers Records by 1975.  The Twinkies' style was a mix of country, rock, and even early punk - as you might imagine, the sound was revolutionary, but did not find a big audience at the time.  Their first record was the self-titled Ray Wylie Hubbard & the Cowboy Twinkies, but disagreements with the label led to a disbanded tour and the album flopped.


Here is Hubbard performing a set with his son backing him up.


Hubbard produced another album on Willie Nelson's Lonestar label in 1978 called Off the Wall, but it did not make any waves.  Hubbard came out with one more album in 1980, Something About the Night, that did about as well.  Like many musicians in the Outlaw Country movement, Hubbard got in over his head with the drugs and alcohol and spent most of the '80s out of the public eye, although he released one album in 1984 called Caught in the Act to little acclaim.  After sharing the billing with a lingerie show at a lounge in Dallas, he decided it was time to try and be sober.  He got involved with other sober musicians and it was none other than legendary guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn that helped him truly reach sobriety.


Alcoholism and drug abuse were a big part of Hubbard's life until the late eighties.  Sobriety gave him a second lease on life.


Sobriety and the untimely death of his friend Stevie in 1990 sparked something in Hubbard and transformed him.  In 1992, he took a fresh attempt at writing and recording and the result was his rockabilly-inspired Lost Train of Thought album.  Even though he didn't realize it at the time, it was the beginning of a new career in music in which he would be known as more than "the guy who wrote 'Redneck Mother'".


See if you can't catch a live Ray Wylie Hubbard performance.  He spends a lot of time on the road, but he always makes special accommodations for his home state of Texas!


The next twenty years would see ten more studio albums and they would include guest musicians as famous as Ringo Starr.  Hubbard recently released his newest album, The Grifter's Hymnal, to critical acclaim earlier this year.  The "Wylie Lama", as he is sometimes called these days, is currently touring across the country, but can still be still be found hosting his Americana radio program "Roots & Branches" in New Braunsfels, Texas.  If you want to read more about Ray Wylie Hubbard, click here, here, or here.  You can visit his official website here.



(1971) Three Faces

(1975) Ray Wylie Hubbard & The Cowboy Twinkies

(1978) Off the Wall

(1980) Something About the Night

(1984) Caught in the Act

(1992) Lost Train of Thought

(1994) Loco Gringo's Lament

(1997) Dangerous Spirits

(1999) Crusades of the Restless Knights

(2000) Live at the Cibolo Creek Country Club

(2001) Eternal and Lowdown

(2003) Growl

(2005) Delirium Tremolos

(2006) Snake Farm

(2010) A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C)

(2012) The Grifter's Hymnal


Songs on KBEC 1390:

"Snake Farm"