John McEuen's Bio
A founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (now in their 50th year!) John McEuen has continually performed since 1964 - 8,500 concerts and 300 television shows throughout more than 3 million miles - with the band and as a solo performer. Beyond performing, he 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 Dirt Band songs and the stories behind them to the stage in a manner that recently earned the honored Best in the West Award from the Folk Alliance Organization.
McEuen has made over 40 albums (6 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 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. 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 8th year. . McEuen produced and directed the 2006 documentary film The Dillards - A Night In the Ozarks, which captures his early mentors at their best.
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 the area's many 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, and fans around the world, from a career that has spanned 50+ years.
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...” and are still touring at the 50 year mark! With the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, he's made 34 albums, including the platinum-selling Will The Circle Be Unbroken, 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" and inducted in to the Library of Congress as “one of America's most important historic recordings.”
Multi-instrumentalist McEuen has ventured into varied musical genres simultaneous with band pursuits, making 6 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, both solo and with his lifetime partners in 'Dirt Band' music, he also recently 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.
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 5th 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.
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, he convinced his brother (then manager/producer of NGDB) to also manage 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; and he has written some of my favorite banjo tunes. But I learned a LOT from him, and not all music”).
In his career so far John has played over 8,500 shows around the world.
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.