Meet the Writers Behind “Wagon Wheel”

Before Darius Rucker took “Wagon Wheel” to the top of the charts, it was originally recorded by Old Crow Medicine Show and co-written by the band’s frontman, Ketch Secor, and the legendary Bob Dylan.

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Dylan is widely known as one of the greatest folk singers of his generation and one of the best songwriters of all time. Rising to fame in the 1960s, Dylan was one of the many artists and songwriters to put a voice to the civil rights movement with hits “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin.'”

To date, Dylan has released 39 studio albums, beginning with his self-titled debut in 1962. He’s had multiple songs reach the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Positively 4th Street” and “Rainy Day Women.” In addition to being one of the best-selling artists of all time, Dylan has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Secor is the co-founder and frontman of Old Crow Medicine Show. Though his stage name is Ketch Secor, he was born Jay Ketcham Miller Secor in 1978 in Virginia. During his youth, Secor attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire where he discovered the bootleg of an unpublished Dylan song. The song featured the chorus so rock me mama like a wagon wheel / Rock me mama any way you feel / Hey mama rock me / Rock me mama like the wind and the rain / Rock me mama like a south-bound train / Hey mama rock me. Secor was inspired to write verses around it, ultimately reaching out to Dylan about licensing, with the two singers sharing co-writing credit.

Prior to Old Crow, Secor formed the band the Route 11 Boys while living in Virginia. After Route 11 broke up, Secor attended Ithaca College in upstate New York where Old Crow was formed. “All of American music comes from the same place,” Secor states in his PBS biography. “It’s just sort of where it ends up. And country music is one of the destinations. You have the banjo, which comes from Africa. And you have the fiddle, which comes from the British Isles and from Europe. And when they meet, they meet in the American South. And that’s the big bang.”

Nearly a decade after Old Crow released it, Rucker, who had embarked on a solo career as a country artist after fronting rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, got his hands on the track and released it as a single in 2013 featuring background harmonies by Lady A. Rucker sent it flying up the charts where it reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts. It also peaked at No. 15 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, marking the most successful solo single of Rucker’s career. In 2022, it became only the fourth country song in history to be certified diamond for sales of 10 million copies or more.

Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns via Getty Images

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