John Wheeler (musician)

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John Wheeler
Wheeler performing solo at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 23, 2008
Wheeler performing solo at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 23, 2008
Background information
Birth nameJohn Christopher Wheeler
Born (1970-01-07) January 7, 1970 (age 52)
OriginNashville, Tennessee US
GenresFolk punk, bluegrass, alternative country
Occupation(s)Singer, guitarist, pianist, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano, violin
Years active1995–present
LabelsDualtone, Cooking Vinyl, Sony Music, Festival Mushroom, Råtass Records, Koch, Hayseed Dixie Records
Associated actsHayseed Dixie, Kerosene Brothers, The Boss Hoss, Deconstruction Brothers,

John Wheeler (born January 7, 1970) is an American musician, songwriter and music producer. While he is best known as the creator[1] and frontman of the internationally-known "rockgrass" band Hayseed Dixie,[2] Wheeler also performs solo and has produced and performed on albums by many other artists.[3] He is the second cousin of bluegrass music pioneer, Lester Flatt. An avid motorcycle enthusiast, Wheeler has ridden a motorcycle on every tour since 2006, logging over 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) across Europe and the United States.


Early life[edit]

Wheeler was born January 7, 1970 in Nashville, Tennessee, the only child of a carpenter and agronomist. Almost entirely self-taught on his instruments, he began playing the piano at the age of 3. His father, having seen him spend hours using a tennis racquet as a pretend guitar, got him an inexpensive Fender acoustic guitar at the age of 7, and he spent much of his childhood teaching himself by playing along to records on his mother's vinyl record player. From 1987 -1995 he studied philosophy and history at universities in Tennessee and Wisconsin, paying his way through by playing in several bands which performed on the college music and fraternity party circuits of the time.


Following university, Wheeler returned to Nashville, where he toured the United States as a backing musician playing guitar and fiddle and singing harmony for several touring acts. In 1996, he also set up his own recording studio in Nashville where he recorded demos and independent albums for numerous songwriters and bands as well as his own increasingly experimental recording projects. In the summer of 2000, Wheeler had the idea – "just for something fun," he has said – to record an album of AC/DC songs played in a pseudo-bluegrass style. Singing lead and playing fiddle, mandolin and guitar, Wheeler recorded an album originally titled AC/Dixie[4] along with local Nashville bassist Kurt Carrick, dobro player Mike Daly and guitarist Rusty Horn. The unexpected commercial success of this recording on local radio led to a record deal with Nashville-based Dualtone Records, who released the album nationally on April 17, 2001, and to Wheeler forming the band, Hayseed Dixie, in order to perform the project live. The success of the 2001 Hayseed Dixie U.S. tour and the album, which sold over 100,000 copies in the United States in its first year of release, led to Wheeler continuing with the Hayseed Dixie project through 2018, producing 15 further Hayseed Dixie recordings which have collectively sold over 800,000 copies worldwide and to more than 1,500 live performances in 31 different countries.[5] In March 2003, the band had the unique distinction of having 3 different albums in the top 15 of the bluegrass category of the US Billboard charts at the same time,[6] Wheeler is also the songwriter for the majority of Hayseed Dixie's original songs,[7] including the cult hits, "I'm Keeping Your Poop (In a Jar)"[8] and "She Was Skinny When I Met Her."

Currently residing in Cambridge in the UK, Wheeler has recently appeared as a special guest on BBC Radio 2 programs, including The Chris Evans Breakfast Show[9] and Simon Mayo Drivetime.[10] He describes his current musical approach as, "acoustic-electric jazz-punk riding on the back of some old-school folk-funk."[11]

Wheeler released a single in November 2012, titled "Deeper in Debt" to coincide with the US elections. His first full-length solo album, Un-American Gothic, was released worldwide on February 4, 2013. His second solo album, Difficult #2 Album and containing all original material of a mainly satirical nature, was released worldwide on January 29, 2016. An EP of original Southern country-rock drinking songs, titled Daydreams About Night Things was released on January 26, 2018.

Wheeler's most recent album, released on September 11, 2020, is a solo classical piano recording of Debussy and Satie pieces which he dubd "French drinking music". The first in a planned series, it is titled Debussy and Satie: Intimate Upright Series, Vol. I.


  1. ^ Dawson, Don. "An Interview with John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie". LLC.
  2. ^ "Billboard Bits: Flipsyde, Townes Van Zandt, Hayseed Dixie". Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  3. ^ "John Wheeler". AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  4. ^ "Music – Hayseed Dixie". BBC. March 30, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Past Tour Dates".
  6. ^ Billboard – Google Books. March 15, 2003. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Deming, Mark (February 18, 2008). "No Covers – Hayseed Dixie". AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Hal (March 19, 2002). "A Hillbilly Tribute to Mountain Love – Hayseed Dixie". AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  9. ^ "Radio 2 Programmes – The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, 16/08/2011". BBC. August 16, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "BBC Radio 2 – 2DAY 2012, Simon Mayo". BBC. May 10, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  11. ^ "John Wheeler Music Official Website". John Wheeler. January 24, 2012. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.