Country band The Flatlanders inducted into Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame

Cat Cardenas

Texas country band The Flatlanders was practically a myth for the better part of 30 years.

Friends Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock came together to form The Flatlanders in 1972. In the year they were together, the band recorded The Odessa Tapes before going on to find success as individual performers.

As the years went on, interest in their album grew, leading up to the band’s reunion in 1998 and a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in 2013. This year, the band was inducted into the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame.

John T. Davis, UT alumnus and author, follows the band’s journey in his book “The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again," published last year.

When people became interested in the band's reunion, Davis said the band members were shocked.

“They thought it was a part of their lives they had left behind a long time ago,” Davis said. “People started listening to their music and they realized how far ahead they had been at the time.”

Vocalist and guitarist Jimmie Gilmore said because they were never after the fame, they created a sound that was very distinctive compared to other country acts in 1973.

“We weren’t trying to be commercial,” Gilmore said. “We were just friends with different tastes in music, so when we got down to recording, we ended up with a really strange repertoire and a different style for the time.”

Throughout their careers, Davis said their friendship always took precedence over their success as a band.

“It was never about the hits for them,” Davis said. “It was about music expressing a lifelong friendship. One of my colleagues said, and I have to agree, that a lot of bands pretend to be friends but this was a group of friends who pretended to be a band.”

Gilmore said their bond with each other made their reunion feel natural.

“We have a mutual history and a mutual admiration for each other,” Gilmore said. “That allowed everything to fall back into place. The things that made us friends then are still here today.”

While the band’s reunion prompted the re-release of their original album, it also gave the band members the opportunity to cowrite songs for the first time. In their original run, Gilmore said songwriting was more of an individual process.

“It’s been wonderful writing together, because it’s something we had never done before,” Gilmore said. “We all have very different personalities and writing styles, but we have this chemistry that allowed us to come together and make something new."