Support the news

Joe Ely: A Honky-Tonk Legend Plays On

Joe Ely.closemore
Joe Ely.

A honky-tonk singer and guitarist from Texas, Joe Ely launched his career in Lubbock, where he hooked up with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock to form The Flatlanders. The group released one album together in 1972, but it didn't attract much attention at the time, and its members went on to play in a wide assortment of solo and band projects, often working together in the process.

Ely's first album to receive widespread critical and audience attention, 1978's Honky Tonk Masquerade set the stage for a tour with The Clash, which in turn gave Ely access to fans he might never have reached. From there, he continued to churn out albums and build his reputation as a live act, touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Guy Clark and Bruce Springsteen.

This year, Ely launched his own record label, and has already released two albums on it, the latest of which is titled Silver City. In this segment, Ely talks about working with the other Flatlanders, as well as his recently released collection of journals.

Copyright NPR 2016.

+Join the discussion

Support the news

Next Up

Where to now?

More NPR or Explore Audio.