John Hartford (December 30, 1937 – June 4, 2001) was an beloved American Folk, Country and Bluegrass composer and musician known for his mastery of the fiddle and banjo, as well as for his witty lyrics and unique vocal style. His most successful song is "Gentle on My Mind". John performed with a variety of ensembles throughout his career, but is perhaps best known for his solo performances where he would interchange the guitar, banjo, and fiddle from song to song. He also invented his own shuffle tap dance move, and clogged on an amplified piece of plywood while he played and sang.
John won Grammy awards in three different decades, recorded a catalog of more than 30 albums. As well as being a regular guest and contributor on the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour and the Smothers Brothers Show, he added music and narration to Ken Burns’ landmark Civil War series, and was an integral part of the hugely popular "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and "Down From The Mountain" concert tour. But that hardly explains John Hartford.
He was a man through and through who did what he loved in life. From captaining Riverboats such as the Julia Belle Swain, sketching and drawing, to simply spending time with people he enjoyed. To this day John's music is inspiring new generations to pickup instruments and learn to play.
The Deering Family became friends with John in the 1980's and bonded over a love of banjos. Together they designed the John Hartford Deering Banjos, with Riverboat style scrolls inlaid into the neck, to the Grenadillo Wood Tone Ring that gives John's signature deeper tones, and a lighter weight option for him to dance with. These are John's banjos.
See more about John's legacy and the John Hartford Memorial Festival his family is carrying on at www.johnhartfordmemfest.com .