Stargazing

Willie Nelson and Ray Benson swing away

When Ray Benson says the idea for his new Western swing album with Willie Nelson goes back a ways, he isn’t kidding.

Benson, leader of Asleep at the Wheel, said famed producer Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records wanted to record a whole album of Western swing music with Nelson back in the mid-’70s. Wexler even hand-picked the songs, but Nelson left Atlantic for Columbia Records and the project fell apart.

Fast forward to 2008. Wexler, retired and living in Florida, contacted Nelson and Benson about resurrecting the project and finally the CD “Willie and the Wheel” was finally released this month. Unfortunately, Wexler died in August at age 91.

“I called him up and said I was going to send him the finished product with all 13 songs, and he never called me back,” Benson said. “Sure enough, a month later he passed away.”

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