Ray Wylie Hubbard Signs to Big Machine (Yes, You Read That Right)

photo: Brad Coolidge

Well, if you thought you were already swimming through an upside down world where the NBA and NHL seasons have just been suspended along with pretty much every major music tour and festival to speak of at least until April, well try this development on for size.

Ray Wylie Hubbard has signed with Big Machine Records. That’s right, Ray Wylie Hubbard has signed with Big Machine Records. Don’t adjust your monitor, don’t navigate to the article tags to see if this is some fake news ploy. April Fools is still two weeks away. This is really happening.

The label home of Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Brantley Gilbert, and Lady Antebellum, and the label where Taylor Swift got her start will now be the label home of the great Wylie Llama. Announced on Thursday (3-12) amid all the other craziness in the world, the 73-year-old country blues legend once known as “The Forgotten Outlaw” is now a part of one of the biggest music concerns in all of country music.

“Ray Wylie Hubbard is a forefather of American rock’n roll, blues and country music who is as relevant today as ever,” said Scott Borchetta. “If you like your music delivered with heart, soul, snarl, attitude and guitars, then the new music from Ray Wylie Hubbard is for you.”

Did you ever think you would see a quote like that from Scott Borchetta?

But in truth, this shouldn’t be entirely shocking if you’ve been paying attention to the doings of Big Machine over the years. Ray Wylie Hubbard is one of many left field signings Scott Borchetta has done. Remember, it was Big Machine’s Valory Music Group imprint that released the big comeback record for The Mavericks from 2013 called In Time that went on to win Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year. The label also released the Latin country group’s followup, Mono in 2015.

Big Machine also released the album Better Than Myself from Alex Williams in 2017—a relative unknown in the mainstream, but a pal and regular touring partner of Cody Jinks, Whitey Morgan, and Ward Davis who are all signed to the same True Grit management company. Scott Borchetta also continues to work with Aaron Lewis of Staind, who doesn’t rightly fit on a label like Big Machine, at least not on paper.

But if it makes money, then it makes sense for all parties. And so here we are. And all that talk of how important it was to see Ray Wylie Hubbard guesting on a big single by Eric Church in “Desperate Man,” and Eric name dropping Ray and what that could do for the ol’ roots music legend’s name recognition, that wasn’t a lot of hot air. This is the result. At 73-years-old, Ray Wylie Hubbard, RAY WYLIE HUBBARD, is finally receiving his due, or at least, signing to a major label.

Humble as always, Ray Wylie Hubbard said about the deal, “To have a badass label like Big Machine say they believe in the low down, greasy record I made with my hoodlum friends and want to put it out? Well, damn. Sure. You bet.”

And to anyone who would say that Ray Wylie sold out here, get out of here with that mess. Hubbard has paid more dues than the rest of the Big Machine roster combined. He’s earned that latitude to do whatever the hell he wants. He’s Ray Wylie Hubbard dammit.

And don’t worry about him getting screwed over. Anyone who knows Ray Wylie knows that his wife Judy—known to many as “Mother Hubbard”—is one of the most savvy managers in the business, and would have a trophy of Scott Borchetta’s gold-plated balls on her mantle if he ever did her hubby wrong.

So screw it. However we got here, we’re here now, and eagerly anticipating more news about Ray Wylie Hubbard’s upcoming debut on Big Machine Records, however weird it sounds. The new record is said to be on the way later in 2020, and include collaborations with Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh.