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Old 97’s is an American alternative and country band, formed in 1993 by Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond, hailing from Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Frontman Rhett Miller and bassist Murry Hammond first collaborated in 1989 on Miller’s debut solo album “Mythologies”. With Miller’s subsequent tour his impressive songwriting and blend of folk and British pop came to the fore, and the two paired up again the year after to form the short-lived project Sleepy Heroes.
Before long the duo enlisted the help of lead guitarist Ken Bethea to record their debut demo, before recruiting drummer Philip Peeples, and officially naming themselves Old 97’s after the country ballad “Wreck of the Old 97”. The band’s debut album “Hitchhike to Rhome” appeared in 1994 to positive critical response and earned Old 97’s an dedicated alt-country fan base. Now signed to the newly operating Bloodshot Records, the band released their sophomore album “Wreck Your Life” in 1995. The album cemented their position within the alt-country genre and led to Old 97’s signing with major-label Elektra Records on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough.
In 1997 Old 97’s made their major-label debut “Too Far to Care” to more positive reviews and an extensive touring schedule to boot, including on the Lollapalooza tour. The band’s subsequent offering “Fight Songs” (1991) produced more of the same highly-polished country-pop songs and led to ever more impressive relentless gigging, however Old 97’s remained on the cusp of a breakthrough that seemed eternally out of reach. Following the release of their fifth studio album “Satellite Rides”, Miller took some time out to record his solo power pop album “The Instigator” in 2002, followed in 2006 by the orchestral “The Believer”.
Old 97’s period of inactivity ended in 2004 with the album “Drag It Up” followed soon after by the live album “Alive & Wired”. In an attempt to recapture some of their roots, the band’s subsequent album “Blame It on Gravity” was recorded in their hometown of Dallas and was argued as a return to form for the band, featuring some of their strongest songs to date. Shortly after bassist Murry Hammond released his own solo album titled “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m on My Way” in 2008, followed a year later by Miller’s fourth solo self-titled release.
A pair of live albums, initially intended as a double live album, appeared in 2010/11 “The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1” and “The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2”. In a collaboration with Waylon Jenning in 1996, a limited edition EP titled “Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings” was released on Record Store Day in 2013, followed by “Most Messed Up” in 2014, the band’s highest charting album, which reached No. 30 on the Billboard 200.