2019 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Inductee
“My Home’s in Montana.”
“When I’m Ridin’ I’m Right.”
Wylie Galt Gustafson is a
man best summarized through
jaunty cowboy ballads, old-
school country songs, and original Montana tunes—a colorful compilation of music written and performed by the Conrad horseman himself.
Since 1989, Wylie and his band, The Wild West, have produced more than twenty albums, featuring an array of tracks you can kick your heels to, enjoy from the comfort of your Barcalounger, or yodel along with in the shower. Heck, they even put out a holiday album to help you ring in an authentic cowboy Christmas.
Authentic is the key word here, because while Wylie is absolutely a music star, he is first and foremost a cowboy.
Born June 7, 1961, Wylie grew up on Montana’s northern plains, at the family ranch near Conrad. Days were spent ahorseback and tending to daily chores. Nights were alive with music, as the family gathered to perform their favorite songs. Wylie’s father strummed his Martin D-18, singing and yodeling now and again. Wylie’s mother, who had a voice fit for the church choir, harmonized. He and his siblings joined in.
Wylie kept at music and eventually found himself in North Hollywood, playing as a regular on Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance at the Palomino Club—the only joint in Los Angeles you could get away with playing original country Western. It was under these circumstances that The Wild West was born, blossoming into a bonafide country rose among a field of cheap imitators.
“The country music industry has become silly. It does not reflect the country lifestyle in my mind,” says Wylie. “I made it a goal to promote the cowboy lifestyle and celebrate our culture in a way that is real.”
The secret of Wylie’s musical success isn’t in any musical formula or flashy gimmick. Its purity lies in his earnestness, enthusiasm, and a smile as welcoming as the Big Sky.
“Because I’ve traveled and lived other places, I’m absolutely sure Montana is the last best place,” he says. “I’ve been all over the world, but my favorite thing is getting back home. My ranch is the foundation of my sanity.”
Horses need to be ridden. Fields must be irrigated. There’s haying to be done. It’s not an easy act balancing a musical career and a Quarter Horse ranch, but it’s an act Wylie takes joy in.