John Knowles

“I grew up around music. Dad had a great collection of classical recordings, Mom loved country music, and Uncle Arthur played guitar. Since Dad was the preacher, I hung out at choir practice and listened as the director took the music apart and put it back together.”

“I picked out melodies on the piano but the accordion became my first real instrument when I took lessons from Mr. Turner. I loved having the chords in one hand and the melody in the other.”

“For my eleventh birthday, I bought myself a plastic ukulele at the local drug store. I learned all the chords in the instruction booklet and began translating music from the accordion to the fretboard. I was an arranger.”

“I was thirteen when I discovered Chet Atkins. I thought it was impossible for anyone to play like that. Then I thought again… and started playing along with his recordings.”

“I joined The Surfriders (my first band) when I was a sophomore in high school. Gene, Barry and I landed our first gig after one rehearsal so I learned all those Hawaiian tunes on stage. I drank coffee to stay up past my bedtime.”

“I went to college and discovered that music professors didn’t appreciate the guitar… so I majored in physics and mathematics. On the extra-curricular side, I met and fell in love with Becky.”

“I earned a Ph.D in physics but after two years in the research labs at Texas Instruments, the guitar caught up with me. So I left my real job and started teaching at Frets & Strings in Dallas. Darryl Saffer moved me through the basics of classical guitar and I learned from players including Robert Guthrie, Christopher Parkening and Pepe Romero.”

“I’ve always said I met Chet Atkins twice. The first time was through his recordings and the second was at a rehearsal with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Chet and I hit if off and started working on projects together. I was thirteen again… only smarter.”

* * *

John’s music has been recorded by Chet Akins, Jerry Reed, Tommy Emmanuel, the Romero Family and James Galway. His Gorilla Song (co-written with his son Jay) is an international hit with recordings by Raffi and XUXA. John’s work has won a Grammy and two Emmy nominations. He earned his PhD in physics from Texas Christian University in 1968.

Visit John Knowles’ website here.