Wilco is an American alternative rock band based in Chicago, Illinois. The band was formed in 1994 by the remaining members of alternative country group Uncle Tupelo following singer Jay Farrar's departure. Wilco's lineup changed frequently during its first decade, with only singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt remaining from the original incarnation. Since early 2004, the lineup has been unchanged, consisting of Tweedy, Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche. Wilco has released eleven studio albums, a live double album, and four collaborations: three with Billy Bragg and one with The Minus 5.
Wilco's music has been inspired by a wide variety of artists and styles, including Bill Fay, The Beatles and Television, and has in turn influenced music by a number of modern alternative rock acts. The band continued in the alternative country style of Uncle Tupelo on its debut album A.M. , but has since introduced more experimental aspects to their music, including elements of alternative rock and classic pop. Wilco's musical style has evolved from a 1990s country rock sound to a current "eclectic indie rock collective that touches on many eras and genres".
Wilco garnered media attention for their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot , and the controversy surrounding it. After the recording sessions were complete, Reprise Records rejected the album and dismissed Wilco from the label. As part of a buy-out deal, Reprise gave Wilco the rights to the album for free. After streaming Foxtrot on its website, Wilco sold the album to Nonesuch Records in 2002. Both record labels are subsidiaries of Warner Music Group, leading one critic to say the album showed "how screwed up the music business is in the early twenty-first century."Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Wilco's most successful release to date, selling over 670,000 copies. Wilco won two Grammy Awards for their fifth studio album, 2004's A Ghost Is Born, including Best Alternative Music Album. Wilco released their eleventh studio album, Ode to Joy, in October 2019.
Wilco was formed following the breakup of the influential alternative country music group Uncle Tupelo. Singer Jay Farrar quit the band in 1994 because of a soured relationship with co-singer Jeff Tweedy. Both Tweedy and Farrar sought to form bands immediately after the breakup. Tweedy was able to keep the entire Uncle Tupelo lineup sans Farrar, including bassist John Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer, and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston. He even enlisted Uncle Tupelo guest guitarist Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets, who performed on many of the tracks for Wilco's debut album, A.M.. The band was tempted to keep the Uncle Tupelo name, but ultimately decided to rename the band. The group named itself "Wilco" after the military and commercial aviation radio voice abbreviation for "will comply", a choice which Tweedy has called "fairly ironic for a rock band to name themselves."
After collaborating with Syd Straw on a cover version of the Ernest Tubb song "The T.B. is Whipping Me" , Wilco began recording tracks for A.M., their first studio album, at Easley studio in June 1994. A demo tape from these recordings was sent to executives at Reprise Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, and the label signed Tweedy to a contract. Although Tweedy stated that he wanted a more collaborative project than Uncle Tupelo, only his name appeared on the Reprise contract. Tweedy requested songwriting submissions from other members, but only one submission—John Stirratt's "It's Just That Simple"—appeared on A.M.. It was the last song Wilco ever released that was lyrically solely written by a member besides Tweedy.
Stylistically similar to Uncle Tupelo, the music on A.M. was considered to be straightforward alternative country rock in what Tweedy later described as "trying to tread some water with a perceived audience."A.M. peaked at number twenty-seven on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, considerably lower than the debut album of Jay Farrar's new band, Son Volt. The album was met with modest reviews though it would rank thirty-fourth in the Village Voice's 1995 Pazz & Jop critics poll. Critically and commercially paling in comparison to the reception of Son Volt's album, the Wilco members perceived A.M. to be a failure. Shortly after the release of the album, multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett joined the band, providing the band with a keyboardist and another guitarist.
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