Wes Freed

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Wes Freed
Born(1964-04-25)April 25, 1964
DiedSeptember 4, 2022(2022-09-04) (aged 58)
Jyl Freed

Wes Freed (April 25, 1964 – September 4, 2022) was an American outsider artist. His works appeared on album covers of Lauren Hoffman and numerous American rock bands, including Cracker and the Drive-By Truckers.[1]

Early life[edit]

Freed was born in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia,[2][3] on April 25, 1964.[4] During his high school years, he served as secretary of his school's Future Farmers of America chapter.[5] He intended to move to New York to become an artist.[3] However, he relocated to Richmond, Virginia, in 1983 to study painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University.[2][6] He ultimately remained in Richmond until his death.[2][7]


Before delving into art, Freed played in Dirt Ball, an alternative country band based in Richmond.[7][8] He served as its lead singer starting in 1986.[5] He also played with other local groups, such as the Shiners (a spin-off from Dirt Ball),[8] Mudd Helmet,[3] the Mutant Drones, and the MagBats.[6] It was during his time with Dirt Ball and Mudd Helmet that Freed designed show posters, adopting an "outsider" style that would influence his later works.[2]

Freed became acquainted with the Drive-By Truckers (DBT) in 1997, when they both performed at the Bubbapalooza Festival.[2] He first worked with the group four years later on their album Southern Rock Opera.[7] He ultimately designed ten album covers for the Truckers.[2][9] He later identified the cover art of The Dirty South (2004) as his personal favorite. Freed utilized marker, watercolor, and acrylic paint, typically on wood.[7] He also designed posters,[3] T-shirts,[10] backgrounds, and miscellaneous merchandise for DBT,[3] as well as the artwork in the 2009 documentary about the Truckers, titled The Secret To A Happy Ending.[11] The final cover he designed for the band was for Welcome 2 Club XIII (2022).[2][7]

Apart from his work with DBT, Freed collaborated with Lauren Hoffman and Cracker.[9] He released in 2019 The Art of Wes Freed – Paints, Posters, Pin-ups and Possums,[12] a coffee table book that compiled his most notable works.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Freed was married to Jyl Freed,[13] until they divorced. She consequently received some of his original album cover art as part of the settlement.[14]

Freed died on September 4, 2022, at the age of 58, nine months after he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.[2][7][15]


  1. ^ "Drive-By Truckers artist Wes Freed rocks Floyd art center". www.roanoke.com. Retrieved January 25, 2016. (Subscription required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Taylor, Drew (September 5, 2022). "Wes Freed, artist behind many of Drive-By Truckers' albums, dies". WIAT. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bloom, Madison; Ruiz, Matthew Ismael (January 12, 2022). "Wes Freed, Drive-By Truckers Artist, Dies at 58". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  4. ^ Weatherford, Greg (September 7, 2022). "In Memoriam: Wes Freed". Style Weekly. Richmond, Virginia. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Melton, Wayne (January 1, 1980). "In Memoriam: Wes Freed". Style Weekly. Richmond, Virginia. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Holmberg, Mark (February 1, 2018). "Wes Freed, 35 years of underground art and music in Richmond". WTVR-TV. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Hudak, Joseph (September 5, 2022). "Wes Freed, Visual Artist Who Designed Drive-By Truckers' Albums, Dead at 58". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Mervis, Scott (February 15, 2002). "Weekend Hotlist, 02/15/02". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on September 8, 2022. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Tryens-Fernandes, Savannah (September 5, 2022). "Wes Freed, iconic artist for Drive-By Truckers albums, reportedly dies at 58". The Huntsville Times. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  10. ^ Burger, David (March 26, 2013). "Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood to headline 2-night stand in Salt Lake City". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on September 9, 2022. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  11. ^ Reid, Zachary (March 18, 2010). "James River Film Festival a community event". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on September 9, 2022. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  12. ^ Freed, Wes (2019). The Art of Wes Freed: Paintings, Posters, Pin-Ups and Possums. Story Farm, LLC. ISBN 9781732645622.
  13. ^ Downing, Andy (February 2, 2011). "Truckers documentary captures tension as well as music". The Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on September 6, 2022. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  14. ^ Wake, Matt (December 19, 2019). "The secrets of Drive-By Truckers' trippy album covers". The Huntsville Times. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  15. ^ Sexton, Paul (September 5, 2022). "Wes Freed, Admired Artist For Drive-By Truckers And Others, Dies At 58". uDiscover Music. Retrieved September 9, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]