Krekel was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1950. He became interested in music early and his first lessons were on the drums. He began taking guitar lessons at age 10 or 11, when it dawned on him that "the guitar player was up front getting all the attention, [like] Rick Nelson". He was singing and playing his guitar for audiences by the time he was 12, gigging in Lebanon, Kentucky, at places like The Golden Horseshoe and Club 68. He began to write his own songs in high school, although he was reluctant to share them with anyone for a few years.
Krekel's first band was an eight-piece basement band called The Octaves. He continued to sharpen his skills and, by the late 1960s, he was in a popular Louisville band called Dusty. It was around this time that two of Tim's peers, Steve Ferguson and Terry Adams, went off and started NRBQ, returning to Louisville with a record contract. For the first time, Tim thought seriously about music as a profession and realized what he had to do. He and Dusty moved to New York City, where they played gigs for a few months while Tim got more serious about writing. After about six months, Tim decided he would be happier pursuing his career closer to home and moved back to Louisville.
Still using the name Dusty, he started another band which developed a strong local following. "We played most every Sunday night at this place called the Storefront Congregation. There was always someone really good sittin’ in with us, like Sam Bush, who would bring his electric violin and tear the place up."
Around that time, Krekel made friends in Nashville and was soon playing gigs there. He even did some recording for Jack Clements. It wasn't long before Tim got a road gig with Billy Swan (who had a huge hit with "I Can Help"). That band toured the States and Europe for a year. Billy went back to playing with Kris Kristofferson, and Tim resumed gigging around Nashville. One night, Tim performed in a showcase where Chet Atkins and a friend were in the audience. The friend turned out to be Jimmy Buffett's manager. He and Chet were quick to recommend Tim to Buffett, who needed a new guitarist. Tim was hired by Buffett and was his lead guitarist for a couple of years in the late 1970s and again in the 80s. During his first stint with Buffett, Tim played on the Son of a Son of a Sailor album and appeared with him on Saturday Night Live, as well as in the 1978 film FM. They also toured with the Eagles who were enjoying immense popularity at that time.
Tim was offered the opportunity to make his own record and decided to leave the band to pursue his own musical vision. His first solo effort, Crazy Me, was released in 1979; however, the Capricorn label folded a mere three months after the album's debut. It was the first album ever produced by Tony Brown and was a critical success.
Tim continued to write, perform and play with other musicians. He recorded his next album, Over The Fence, with The Sluggers, and it was released in 1986. Rolling Stone called the Sluggers "a roots-based guitar band that matters".
Tim and the Sluggers toured the country for a few years performing with folks like Carl Perkins, the Blasters and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The Italian record company, Appaloosa Records, released his Out Of The Corner in 1991. It received a four-star rating from CD Review, which also touted Tim as "One of American Rock ‘N Roll’s great unknowns." By 1991, Tim had acquired a dedicated following in the U.S. and in Europe.
In 1993 Krekel found himself a bit frustrated with the music industry and with some concern over what direction his career should take. Again, he moved back to Louisville. Rejuvenated by his return to familiar surroundings, Tim remembered why he began to make music in the first place. He started a new band, The Groovebillys, and pursued music with a renewed vigor.
Tim Krekel & the Groovebillys first release, L&N, quickly became the best-selling record in Louisville—outselling national releases. The band's next release, 1999's Underground, hit number one in local sales its first week. In reviewing the album, The Courier-Journal said "Krekel works the roots-rock territory with an authority gained from 25 years in the business".
In 2002 Happy Town was released across the U.S. on the Envoy/FFE label. Tim along with drummer Mike Alger and bassist Rick Harper recorded the CD over the latter part of 2001, with the assistance of engineer David Barrick (Barrick Recording Studio) and co-producer Ben Ewing (Nashville-based Artists Envoy Agency). The backing tracks were recorded over three days end of August '01 with overdubs recorded a few weeks later. The CD was originally to be by Tim Krekel and The Kasualties, w/ a song titled, "We're All Casualties" as the lead off track. That version was never finished and remains unreleased. With the events of 9/11, "Kasualties" was considered inappropriate, and was issued as Tim Krekel. A re-recorded version of the song later appeared on the TKO CD.
In May 2005 a horse named Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby and Tim resurrected a song he wrote in the early nineties named "No Mo Do Giacomo". The new recording soon took on a life of its own and caught the eye of NBC Sports which filmed Tim and his band and showed highlights of the performance during a pre-Preakness National broadcast. About the same time that Tim's album World Keeps Turnin’ was being pressed onto thousands of CDs, millions of racefans were sitting in front of their TVs seeing Tim and the band play "No Mo Do Giacomo". In 2007 Krekel released Soul Season on the Natchez Trace Label, which featured Michael Webb and the Tim Krekel Orchestra.
In March 2009 Tim Krekel was diagnosed with cancer. By mid June 2009 Tim Krekel's health took a drastic turn for the worse and at the final stages of what he described as, "A most wonderful life!", Krekel was able to die at home under the loving care of his family and hospice on June 24, 2009.
In 2012, Louisville based sonaBLAST! Records posthumously released Krekel's final work, "Sings Up The Sun."
During his lifetime, Krekel released eight albums, Crazy Me (1979), Over the Fence (1986), Out of the Corner (1991), L&N (1998), Underground (1999), Happytown (2002), World Keeps Turnin' (2006) and Soul Season (2007). Released after his death: "Sings Up The Sun" (2012)
The songs he wrote or co-wrote were performed, among others, by:
- Dr. Feelgood ("No Mo Do Yakamo") - which appeared on their album,A Case of the Shakes
- Crystal Gayle ("Turning Away") - which appeared on her album, Cage the Songbird
- Alan Jackson ("Anywhere on Earth You Are") - from Like Red on a Rose
- Patty Loveless ("You Can Feel Bad") - which appeared on her album, The Trouble with the Truth
- Martina McBride ("Cry on the Shoulder of the Road")
- Delbert McClinton ("Blues as Blues Can Get")
- The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ("It's a New Day", "Jealous Moon")
- Kim Richey ("Come Around", "Didn't I", "Echoes of Love", "That's a Lie")
- Shakin' Stevens ("Turning Away")
- Aaron Tippin ("Cold Gray Kentucky Morning")
- Sam Bush ("All Night Radio")
- Jason and the Scorchers ("I Can't Help Myself") - on their album Fervor
- Marshall Chapman ("I Love Everybody") ("Big Lonesome") ("Sick of Myself") ("Love Slave") ("In the Fullness of Time") ("Somebody Like You")
- "Mixed Media | Tim Krekel, Musician". KET. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
- Rick Harper