AUSTIN (KXAN) — Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson didn’t truly get to celebrate his birthday this year.
The award-winning country performer turned 69-years-old on March 16 right as the coronavirus pandemic began to wave through the country. His annual birthday benefit concert was forced to be put on hold as Texas braced for the virus.
Then — Benson had his own battle with COVID-19.
On March 31, Benson announced he tested positive for COVID-19 after 10 days of “feeling tired.” He says it took two different attempts to be tested for the virus because he wasn’t displaying normal respiratory symptoms.
Around three weeks later, he began to feel better. Benson announced on Facebook on April 17 that he kicked the virus with plans to perform again.
Following his recovery, his birthday bash was back on with a stronger purpose to support local music and Austin musicians.
Like most places across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread, economic damage to Austin musicians and their venues.
On Saturday, Benson will host a virtual version of his annual “Birthday Bash” on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. with guests like Willie Nelson, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen. Benson’s event is the second largest fundraiser of the year for the Health Alliance of Austin Musicians, HAAM, which helps local, working musicians afford healthcare.
Benson also let KXAN in on a surprising secret guest — rocker Alice Cooper will also take part in the live stream. Benson says Cooper recently wrote a song for the country music icon.