Old 97's

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Old 97's
Old 97's performing at the Levitt Pavilion in central Arlington, Texas in 2013
Old 97's performing at the Levitt Pavilion in central Arlington, Texas in 2013
Background information
OriginDallas, Texas, U.S.
Years active1992–present
LabelsATO Records, Big Iron, Idol, Bloodshot, Elektra, New West
MembersRhett Miller
Murry Hammond
Ken Bethea
Philip Peeples
Murry Hammond
Old 97s at the 9:30 Club. Fall 2015

Old 97's is an American rock band from Dallas, Texas. Formed in 1992,[6] they have since released twelve studio albums, two full extended plays, shared split duty on another, and have one live album. Their most recent release is Twelfth.

They were pioneers of the alt-country movement during the mid-to-late 1990s, then they developed more of a power pop style in the 2000s.[4] Lead vocalist and primary songwriter Rhett Miller has described the band's style as "loud folk".[7] The band's name is in reference to the Wreck of the Old 97.[8]


Initially a popular Dallas bar band, 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,[6] who hoped that alt-country could be a new post-grunge trend. 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 references to 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."

In 2005, Blender magazine ranked the band's then most successful single, 1999's "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)", as the 176th greatest song "since you were born."[9]

Their music has been featured in a number of films and TV series, including The Break-Up ("Salome", "Melt Show", "Timebomb"), Clay Pigeons ("Timebomb"), Slither ("The New Kid"), Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide ("Big Brown Eyes"), Ed ("Question", "King of All the World"), Scrubs ("Question"), Veronica Mars ("Adelaide", "Four-Leaf Clover", "The New Kid") and Scorpion ("Question").[10] With respect to The Break-Up, a key scene toward the end of the film takes place at an Old 97's concert.

Rhett Miller has recorded seven solo studio albums and one live album, 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.[11] Murry Hammond's solo album, I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way, was released April 21, 2008.

Old 97's have been heralded as a great live band, although they claim never to rehearse their act.[12] 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 a faux "tribute band"—it is actually an alias the band performs under when contractual obligations prevent them from using the Old 97's name.[13] The Ranchero Brothers is the name used when only Rhett and Murray Hammond perform. 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.[14]

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.[15] The second, The Grand Theatre, Volume Two, was released on July 5, 2011.[16]

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.'"[17]

The band's tenth studio album, Most Messed Up, was released April 29, 2014, by ATO Records and was their best-selling album to date, reaching #30 on the Billboard 200.[18]

Their next two releases on ATO Records were Graveyard Whistling, their 11th studio album, released February 24, 2017,[19] and Love the Holidays, an album of mostly original Christmas songs, released November 16, 2018.

ATO Records released the band's next studio album, aptly named Twelfth, on August 21, 2020. The twelve tracks were produced by Vance Powell, who produced Graveyard Whistling. Old 97's noted that the recording sessions in Nashville started on the night of a deadly tornado outbreak and right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.[20][21]

The band members portrayed the alien rock band Bzermikitokolok and the Knowheremen in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, singing the original song "I Don't Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)" and their 2018 song "Here It Is Christmastime," the latter with Kevin Bacon singing lead.[22][23]

Band members[edit]



Year Album Billboard 200[24] Label
1994 Hitchhike to Rhome Idol Records
1995 Stoned / Garage Sale (with Funland)
1995 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] [25]
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
2017 Graveyard Whistling 82
2018 Love the Holidays
2020 Twelfth


Year Song Chart positions Album
US AAA[26]
1995 "Eyes for You" non-album single
1996 "Crying Drunk"
1997 "Timebomb" Too Far to Care
1998 "Streets of Where I'm From"
1999 "Murder (or a Heart Attack)" 6 Fight Songs
"Nineteen" 9
2001 "King of All the World" 8 Satellite Rides
2007 "Here It Is Christmas Time" non-album single
2008 "Dance With Me" 28 Blame It On Gravity
2010 "Every Night is Friday Night (With You)" 20 The Grand Theatre, Volume One
2017 "Good with God" (featuring Brandi Carlile) 11 Graveyard Whistling
2020 "Turn off the TV" 22 Twelfth



  1. ^ "Old 97's Salute Manhattan and the Beatles". Rolling Stone. 8 August 2011.
  2. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/artist/old-97s-mn0000461698
  3. ^ https://www.jambase.com/article/old-97s-summer-tour
  4. ^ a b Keyes, J. Edward (27 August 2012). "Outside Lands 2011: The 25 Acts You Need to See". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 August 2014. ...gradually transformed from pioneers of alt-country to one of the sleekest and winningest power pop bands around.
  5. ^ https://www.abqjournal.com/421283/santa-fe-americana-music.html
  6. ^ a b "Old 97's Biography". starpulse.com. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  7. ^ "The Old 97s Perform 'Timebomb' | Fender". YouTube. 2012-10-15. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  8. ^ "WashingtonPost.com: The Old 97's". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  9. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born: 151-200". Blender. October 2005. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009.
  10. ^ "Old 97's". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  11. ^ "Music". Official Community of Rhett Miller. Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  12. ^ "Q&A: Murry Hammond of Old 97's". Blogs.dallasobserver.com. Retrieved 2008-02-16.
  13. ^ LAVASSAR, MA'CHELL DUMA (2008-08-27). "Satellite Riders". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  14. ^ "Rock Band Gets a Second Dose of Country Plus a 3-Pack From Jimmy Eat World". Harmonix. 2009-02-20. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
  15. ^ "on that note...: Round up of Old 97's New Songs". Cindyroyal.blogspot.com. 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
  16. ^ "Old97's » TGTV2 Cover Revealed". Old97s.com. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2014-07-10.
  17. ^ Langer, Andy (2013-09-28). "For Old 97's, a Collaboration That Never Ages". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  18. ^ "Old 97's - Chart history | Billboard". www.billboard.com. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  19. ^ "Old97's » NEW ALBUM 'GRAVEYARD WHISTLING' OUT TODAY". Old97s.com. 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  20. ^ "Old97's » Twelfth Studio Album Announced". Old97s.com. 2020-06-23. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  21. ^ Hudak, Joseph (2020-06-23). "Old 97's' Rhett Miller Wrote Killer Drinking Songs. Now He's Sober and Still at the Top of His Game". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  22. ^ Seibold, Witney (2022-11-25). "Who Is The Alien Band In The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special?". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2022-11-26.
  23. ^ Davids, Brian (November 18, 2022). "James Gunn Talks Writing 'The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special' in Just a Few Hours and the Latest on His Final 'Guardians' Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 19, 2022. Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  24. ^ "Old 97's Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Discography". Official Community of Old 97's. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  26. ^ "Old 97's Chart History: Adult Alternative". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2018.

External links[edit]