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John Cowan in 2012
August 24, 1953|
Minerva, Ohio, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Bass guitarist, Singer|
|Labels||Sugar Hill, RCA|
John Cowan (born August 24, 1953 in Minerva, Ohio) is an American soul music and progressive bluegrass vocalist and bass guitar player. He was the lead vocalist and bass player for the New Grass Revival. Cowan became the band's bassist in 1972 after the departure of original bassist Ebo Walker and was noted as being the only member of New Grass Revival not to come from a bluegrass background.
From 1988 to 1996 Cowan teamed with Rusty Young of Poco, Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd and Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers in a band originally called Four Wheel Drive which was later changed to The Sky Kings. Several singles were released but failed to chart well. Two albums were recorded but not released by RCA until 1997 after the group's demise as the Sky Kings, "Out of the Blue".
Thanks in part to his collaboration with Simmons in Four Wheel Drive, Cowan also found himself the bass player for The Doobie Brothers from 1993 to 1995. His song "Can't Stand To Lose", co-written with Rusty Young, was featured on the Doobies' 2000 album Sibling Rivalry.
In addition, throughout the 1990s, Cowan picked up session work singing harmony vocals and/or playing bass on recordings of Travis Tritt, Steve Earle, Garth Brooks, and Wynonna.
From 1996 through 1998, Cowan was the bassist and harmony vocalist in Sam Bush's touring band.
The new century brought a blues record from Cowan. By 2002, his projects on Sugar Hill turned more to his "newgrass" stylings.
Cowan performed on two bluegrass tribute albums for the British rock band The Moody Blues: Moody Bluegrass: A Nashville Tribute to The Moody Blues (2004), and Moody Bluegrass TWO... Much Love (2011).
In 2006, Cowan left Sugar Hill and went to the independent label Pinecastle Records. In 2008, Cowan was chosen to participate in a movie on the life of Billy Graham, titled, Billy: The Early Years.
In May 2010, Cowan rejoined The Doobie Brothers as their touring bass player after their regular bassist, Skylark, suffered a stroke.
- 1986: Soul'd Out! (Sugar Hill) as Johnny "C"
- 2000: John Cowan (Sugar Hill)
- 2002: Always Take Me Back (Sugar Hill)
- 2009: Comfort and Joy (eOne)
- 2010: The Massenburg Sessions (eOne)
- 2014: Sixty (Compass)
- 2009: 8,745 Feet: Live at Telluride (eOne)
As a member of New Grass Revival
- 1975: Fly Through the Country (Flying Fish)
- 1977: When the Storm Is Over (Flying Fish)
- 1977: Too Late to Turn Back Now (Flying Fish)
- 1979: Barren County) (Flying Fish)
- 1981: Commonwealth (New Grass Revival album) (Flying Fish)
- 1981: The Live Album (Paradise) with Leon Russell
- 1984: Live (Flying Fish)
- 1984: On the Boulevard (Capitol)
- 1984: Deviation (Rounder) with Béla Fleck
- 1986: New Grass Revival (Capitol)
- 1987: Hold to a Dream (Capitol)
- 1989: Friday Night in America (Capitol)
As a member of The Sky Kings
- 2000: From Out of the Blue (Rhino Handmade)
- 2014: 1992 (Sony)
Also appears on
- 1978: Bryn Haworth - Grand Arrival (A&M)
- 1978: John Prine - Bruised Orange (Asylum) - vocals on track 10, "The Hobo Song"
- 1987: Foster and Lloyd - Foster & Lloyd (album) (RCA) - vocals
- 1988: Steve Earle - Copperhead Road (UNI) - vocals
- 1989: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two (Universal) - vocals
- 1992: Wynonna Judd - Wynonna (Curb / MCA) - backing vocals
- 1996: Kathy Chiavola - The Harvest (Demon) - vocals
- 1999: Jesse Winchester - Gentleman Of Leisure (Sugar Hill) - vocals
- 1999: Leftover Salmon - The Nashville Sessions (Hollywood) - vocals
- 2000: The Doobie Brothers - Sibling Rivalry (Pyramid / Rhino) - bass, vocals
- 2003: Wayne Benson - An Instrumental Anthology (Pinecastle)
- 2014: Rodney Crowell - Tarpaper Sky (New West) - vocals
- 2016: Frank Solivan - Family, Friends & Heroes (Compass)
- Loftus, Johnny. "John Cowan biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- Wolff, Kurt; Duane, Orla. Country music: the rough guide. p. 242.
- Stambler, Irwin; Laudon, Grelun; Stambler, Lyndon. Country Music: The Encyclopedia. pp. 339–341.
- Larkin, Colin. The Virgin encyclopedia of country music. p. 304.
- "Moody Bluegrass: Rocking Through the Hills". NPR.org. 2004-12-30. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- "Moody Bluegrass Two…Much Love". bluegrasstoday.com. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Teen lands role as Billy Graham's sister in new film | www.tennessean.com | The Tennessean