A native of Amarillo, Texas,
Joe Ely got his start in the early '70s, working with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in a group called the Flatlanders. When he is
not out doing his solo shows, or on the road with his saddle
pals Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt and Guy Clark doing gigs at honky tonks
like Carnegie Music Hall early in 2006, where they packed the
Hall...Carnegie that is. Press describes Ely as "energetic and
passionate live performer."
When Joe released his STREETS
OF SIN release the Rounder Records bio read:
With a career spanning 18 albums, thousands of live performances,
and hundreds of thousands of miles on the road over four decades, Joe
Ely needs no introduction. Roll out the Lord of the Highway, King of the
Honky-Tonk, torch-bearer of nitro-fueled, tornado-twisted West Texas
rock and roll. Cite Lubbock and Austin for giving him a unique sense of
place. Name drop Buddy Holly, the Clash, and Bruce Springsteen. Bemoan
radio's inability to decide whether he's too country for rock, or too
rock for country. That's it. You're done. Done. All that needs to be
said has been said.
Joe Ely along with Steve
Earle and some other performers on the Randy Newman tribute album found
the press saying the Newman
has gone country. Today he is on the play list of KZLA's Altville
one of the original Texas
Outlaws of Austin fame...Joe is in the Lubbock Texas Hall of Fame, along
with Waylon Jennings, Buddy
Hollywood and some of his saddle pals.
In the late 1990s Ely was
asked to write songs for
Robert Redford's movie
The Horse Whisperer, which led to reforming
The Flatlanders with Gilmore and Hancock for an appearance on the movie
Years back where Ely was big
in Europe and touring with the Clash, Time Magazine reported that one
of the top country acts is yet
to be discovered
in the US, while he was taking Europe by storm.
Around the mid-'70s, he
formed an eclectic group who was able to swing from Cajun and western to
honky-tonk stomps and rockabilly; they were signed to MCA in 1977. Ely
released an eponymous debut that year, using songs written by Gilmore
and Hancock and throwing in some of his own road-worn, oddly poetic
The next year brought Honky Tonk Masquerade, the cornerstone
of Ely's legacy and one of modern country's most ambitious albums.
Further albums (especially Live Shots, recorded during his
European tour with the Clash) brought him to the attention of rock fans
and netted ecstatic reviews in country and pop magazines. In 1987 Hightone label signed him
and released Lord of the Highway. Another Hightone album followed
before Ely (whose influence was being felt by the new breed of country
neo-traditionalists) re-signed with MCA, releasing another live set and
Love and Danger. Twistin' in the Wind followed in 1998,
and Live at Antone's arrived two years later along with MCA
Nashville's "best of" collection.
Ely's most recent collection of new material is 2003's
Sin. Settle for Love, a compilation of previously
released works culled from 1987's Lord of the Highway and 1988's
"Dig All Night, surfaced in 2004. He still gets together with
his Flatlander buddies and does some barn burner tours.