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John Hartford


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John Cowan Hartford (December 30, 1937– June 4, 2001) was an American country and bluegrass composer and musician known for his mastery of the fiddle and banjo, as well as for his witty lyrics, unique vocal style, and extensive knowledge of Mississippi River lore. Hartford performed with a variety of ensembles throughout his career, and 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.

At the time of his death, Hartford was also working on the biography of the blind fiddler Ed Haley. Hartford’s album Wild Hog in the Red Bush is a collection of Haley’s tunes. Hartford also provided narration for several of Ken Burns’ documentaries.
Hartford was given a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Hartford recorded more than 30 albums in his life, ranging across a broad spectrum of styles—from the traditional country of his early RCA recordings, to the new and experimental sound of his early newgrass recordings, to the traditional folk style to which he often returned later in his life. Hartford’s albums also vary widely in formality, from the stately and orderly “Annual Waltz” to the rougher and less cut recordings that typified many of his later albums.
“Aereo-Plain” and “Morning Bugle” are often considered to be Hartford’s most influential work, coming as they did at the very beginning of a period in which artists such as Hartford and the New Grass Revival, led by Sam Bush, would create a new form of country music, blending their country backgrounds with influences from another of other sources.


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  • OGTL

    doo do doo do do doo doo ooh

    31 Dec 2014 Reply
  • reagan0

    The Similar Artists look like a list of artists from O Brother Where Art Thou.

    16 May 2013 Reply
  • Kedyca

    He's like the charming cheeky grandpa you always wish you had.

    11 Apr 2012 Reply
  • semionato

    i'm still riveted. this man is a key to a world of pleasure and beauty.

    19 Mar 2012 Reply
  • semionato


    8 Feb 2012 Reply
  • semionato


    15 Dec 2011 Reply
  • semionato

    i'm riveted.

    14 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Eurocoup

    So underrated. He's quickly become one of my all-time favorite songwriters. He reminds me a lot of Scott Walker, somewhat in his thick and rich voice but more in the breadth and oddness of his material, but Hartford's less pointedly weird overall.

    1 Jul 2011 Reply
  • rod32lop

    Legal mesmo!

    10 May 2011 Reply
  • kellmsa

    Cute =D

    19 Feb 2011 Reply
  • NovemberDirge

    Everything on Aereo-Plain is pure gold.

    21 Nov 2010 Reply
  • j_walker91

    freakin awesome music, wish there would be more but this stuff is really awesome :)

    6 Sep 2010 Reply
  • kaipaan

    so amazing

    22 Nov 2009 Reply
  • mgocze

    we miss you, john.

    26 Apr 2009 Reply
  • tomloski

    My Hat keeps coming off!

    8 Mar 2009 Reply
  • drewblue

    An amazing human legume.

    8 Feb 2009 Reply
  • Zodiac_Killer

    He was such a great artist. R.I.P.

    1 Jan 2009 Reply
  • rafcosford

    Likewise bigjackd, then I don't think I heard him again until 'Oh Brother'. If the internet has done nothing else it has enabled me to hear singers & songs that I would otherwise have missed. So much music, so little time!

    2 Dec 2008 Reply
  • joobie

    on a genuine old fashioned authentic steam powered areoplane

    29 Oct 2008 Reply
  • heavy_metaller

    aereo plan is da stuff

    30 Aug 2008 Reply
  • All 36 shouts

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