Where Are They Now

Updates on the cosmic cowboys, redneck rockers, and other notables of the outlaw country scene.

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel have won nine Grammy Awards.

Bill Bentley became a senior vice president of media relations at Warner Bros. Records and is now the A&R director at Vanguard Records.

Alvin Crow still plays monthly at the Broken Spoke with his band, the Pleasant Valley Boys.

Robert Earl Keen released his eleventh solo album, Ready for Confetti, last year.

Kris Kristofferson wrote numerous country and pop hits and earned a Golden Globe Award for his role opposite Barbra Streisand in 1976’s A Star Is Born before having his greatest chart success as a singer with the Highwaymen.

Gary P. Nunn lives in the Hill Country and performs with his Bunkhouse Band.

Tim O’Connor has staged numerous musical events, including the No Nukes concerts and Farm Aid. He owns Direct Events, a music-booking company in Austin.

Joe Nick Patoski went on to an eighteen-year career as a staff writer at TEXAS MONTHLY, and he has written six books, including the definitive Willie biography, Willie Nelson: An Epic Life , published by Little, Brown & Company in 2008.

Jan Reid has written, co-written, or edited eleven books, including his 2004 update of The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock , and 2010’s Texas Tornado: The Life of Doug Sahm . Both were published by the University of Texas Press.

Leon Russell scored a number one country hit in 1979 with a cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” he recorded with Willie and soon after largely disappeared from public view. Last year, he staged a notable comeback: he released The Union, a collaboration with Elton John, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Doug Sahm formed Grammy award–winning Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados in 1990 with Freddie Fender, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jiménez. He died of a heart attack in 1999.

Bobby Earl Smith practices criminal law in Austin and continues to record and perform.

Nick Spitzer received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas in 1986 and now teaches at Tulane University. He is the host and producer of the public radio show American Routes.

James White still owns and operates the Broken Spoke.

Eddie Wilson owns the two Threadgill’s restaurants and concert venues in Austin, one on the site of the former Armadillo World Headquarters.

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