John McEuen's Bio
BIO – John McEuen 1/1/18
John McEuen has been a “professional performer” since 1962, working as a magician in Disneyland’s Magic Shop as a teenager. Music soon came along, which led to his long and varied career first solo, then as a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966. Over 10,000 concerts and 300 television shows throughout more than 3 million miles - with the band and as a solo performer – John has pursued his passion for performing and recording. John left NGDB at the end of their 50th year touring to focus on the demand for his solo performing and projects. Beyond performing, he concurrenty has a rich history of creating, producing and preserving original and traditional folk and acoustic music, and taking it to new audiences.
He brings his guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin along with favorite NGDB songs and the stories behind them to the stage in a manner that earned the honored Best in the West Award from the Folk Alliance Organization.
McEuen has made over 40 albums (7 solo) that have earned four platinum and five gold recognition awards, Grammy nominations, CMA and ACM awards, an Emmy nomination, IBMA record of the year award, and performed on another 25 albums as guest artist. He's also produced another 7 albums, and 14 film scores (two Emmy nominated shows) and more than 300 concerts throughout his career - the first in 1965 in Long Beach Calif., with Bob Dylan.
His production of Steve Martin - The Crow won the 2010 Best Bluegrass Album Grammy. Prior to that, The Music of the Wild West CD- produced by McEuen, was honored with the Western Heritage Award. A Grammy nomination for String Wizards II preceded the1994 Uncle Dave Macon Award for his excellence in preservation and performance of historic music. On Sirius/XM's The Bridge, John's popular Acoustic Traveller show is now in its 9th year. McEuen produced and directed the 2006 documentary film The Dillards - A Night In the Ozarks, which captures his early mentors at their best.
In April of 2018 John officially became an author, with his first book The Life I’ve Picked being published (On Chicago Review Press). A memoire, a telling of incredible stories from raising 6 kids in the music business and the ins and outs of being an iconic band member to being a single father to his current full and varied career, his book takes the reader on his unusual journey.
In September of 2017 John was inducted in to the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame.
McEuen's countless jams include street performers to Phish, Earl Scruggs, Levon Helm… and even on Sesame Street with a herd of goats and a cow! Arguably, McEuen's most important legacy may be his initiating what Rolling Stone called “The most important record to come out of Nashville” and what the 2004 ZAGAT survey called “the most important record in country music” - Will the Circle Be Unbroken...
Three years before he became a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, teenage Disneyland Magic Shop magician John McEuen discovered that he liked being in front of people.
In his last months of high school 'music' showed up and put him on stages of all the many southern California folk clubs. Playing solo and with others (Michael Martin Murphey, Jose Feliciano, Penny Nichols and Mary McCaslin, and his first group, Wilmore City Moonshiners) would lead to Grammys and entertainment business recognition, fans around the world, and a career that has spanned 50+ years.
Initially, searching for a path to showbiz in 1965, with borrowed money (from his father) McEuen booked Bob Dylan for a concert in a Long Beach high school auditorium. It sold out! He paid back the loan and bought a new banjo. By 1970, his brother (then manager/producer of NGDB) also began managing his high school buddy Steve Martin, with whom John had worked with in Disneyland's Magic Shop (“Steve says he learned a lot of banjo from me. I could just steal notes off records quicker was all; Steve has written some of my favorite banjo tunes. But I learned a LOT from him, and not all music”).
When "a bunch of guys playing together at McCabe's Guitar Shop (where John was teaching banjo during a 1966 So. Calif. summer) in Long Beach, California, joined forces as The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a jug band that headed out to play everything from "folk to rock to country...". At the end of thier 50th year tour, due to 'differences of opinion" and growing demand for his own shows, John left NGDB in October of 2017. With the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, he made 34 albums, including the platinum-selling Will The Circle Be Unbroken, initiated by John asking Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson to record with his bandmates (produced by the band's manager John's brother, Bill McEuen) in 1971 for United Artists Records. Indisputably "one of the most important recordings ever come out of Nashville" (Rolling Stone, 1972), "...Circle..." is recognized today as a music milestone and integral part of Americana history. It was declared by the 2004 Zagat survey "the most important album in Country Music". The 'Circle' album has been inducted in to the Library of Congress and the Grammy Hall of Fame as “one of America's most important historic recordings.”
Multi-instrumentalist McEuen has ventured into varied musical genres, making 7 of his own CD's and producing 10 others. Taking his music and other talents to different formats including television specials (writing and producing), film scoring (14 FILMS TO DATE), unusual award winning CDs and concert production, John has received recognition and awards in MANY the fields. Keeping up an active concert schedule, he also won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album for his production of The Crow - New Songs for the 5-string Banjo by Steve Martin, on Rounder Records.
September of 2017 he was inducted in to the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame!
His love of acoustic music history and being onstage is evident to all those who see him putting his banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, lap steel, and piano together with songs and comedic storytelling.
After doing over 10,000 interviews McEuen started his Radio show, Acoustic Traveller, on XM's The Village, now in its 9th year. The music John performs today evolved from early inspiration from seeing The Dillards in his native Southern California, and music he made going down that early road with various artists.
In his career so far John has played over 9,500 shows around the world.
His book - The Life I've Picked - was released in April of 2018 on Chicago Review Press.
John McEuen has performed and/or recorded with: Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Bill Wyman, Johnny Cash, Marshall Tucker Band, Steve Martin, The Smothers Brothers, Rowan & Martin, Clint Eastwood, Phish, Crystal Gayle, Michael Martin Murphey, Hans Olson, Tammy Wynette, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Leon Russell, Kevin Nealon, Tom Chapin, Pete Seeger, Mary McCaslin, Vassar Clements, Jose Feliciano, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Andy Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, The Band, The Doors, Foreigner, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Little Richard, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Robin Williams, Albert Gore, Robert Schimmel, Tom Petty, Stephen Wright, Little River Band, Air Supply, Doobie Brothers, Bill Cosby, Martha Redbone, Hootie and the Blowfish, the list goes on, and there are stories about all of them.