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The Flatlanders Biography

Home > Music > F > Flatlanders, The > Biography

Birth Place: Lubbock, Texas
Years Active: 1972–1973, 1998–present
Genres: Country Rock, Alternative Country

The Flatlanders are an American country band with considerable country rock influence 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 (1972–1973), 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.

They came together in Lubbock in 1972, with Gilmore as the main songwriter and singer. One of the band's first appearance was at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1972, where they were named one of the winners of the inaugural Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Singer/Songwriter Competition.

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.”

The three musicians continued to reunite for occasional Flatlanders performances. In 1998 they contributed to the soundtrack of “The Horse Whisperer,” and in 2002 released their follow-up album, “Now Again,” on New West Records. In 2004 this was followed by “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.

The Flatlanders' next album, “Hills & Valleys,” was released by New West in 2009. The Flatlanders released, “The Odessa Tapes” in 2012 via New West Records. The album was composed of recently discovered recordings from 1972 that were believed lost for nearly 40 years.