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About John

“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.”

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John Knowles has worked with the finest fingerstyle and classical guitarists including Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Lenny Breau and the Romero Family. His music has been recorded by Chet, Jerry, 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. Guitarists around the world subscribe to and learn from his FingerStyle Quarterly. John's work has won a Grammy and two Emmy nominations. In 1996, Chet Atkins awarded John the first Honorary CGP (Certified Guitar Player) degree and in 2004, John was inducted into the National Thumb Picker's Hall of Fame for the second time. John earned his PhD in physics from Texas Christian University in 1968.