Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Shepherd performs at the Leverkusener Jazztage in 2019
Shepherd performs at the Leverkusener Jazztage in 2019
Background information
Birth nameKenny Wayne Brobst
Born (1977-06-12) June 12, 1977 (age 45)[1]
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1990–present

Kenny Wayne Shepherd (born Kenny Wayne Brobst; June 12, 1977) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He has released several studio albums and experienced significant commercial success as a blues artist.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Shepherd was born in Shreveport, Louisiana.[5] He graduated from Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport. He is "completely self-taught", [6] and does not read music. Growing up, Shepherd's father (Ken Shepherd) was a local radio personality and some-time concert promoter, and had a vast collection of music. Shepherd received his first "guitar" at the age of three or four, when his grandmother purchased a series of several plastic guitars for him with S&H Green Stamps, which Shepherd has said he would "go through like candy".[6]

Shepherd stated in a 2011 interview that he began playing guitar in earnest at age seven, about six months after meeting and being "pretty mesmerized"[6] by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Labor Day weekend in 1984, at one of his father's promoted concerts. His self-taught method employed a process of learning one note at a time, playing and rewinding cassette tapes, using "a cheap Yamaha wanna-be Stratocaster ... made out of plywood, basically",[6] and learning to play by following along with material from his father's record collection.[6]

Blues musician Bryan Lee invited 13 years old Shepherd to play guitar onstage. He subsequently made demo tapes, and a video was shot at Shepherd's first performance at the Red River Revel Arts Festival in Shreveport. It was this video performance that impressed Giant Records chief Irving Azoff enough to sign Shepherd to a multiple album record deal.

Shepherd during the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2010

From 1995 on, Shepherd took seven singles into the Top 10, and holds the record for the longest-running album on the Billboard Blues Charts with Trouble Is.... In 1996, Shepherd began a longtime collaboration with vocalist Noah Hunt, who provided the vocals for Shepherd's signature song, "Blue on Black". Shepherd has been nominated for five Grammy Awards, and has received two Billboard Music Awards, two Blues Music Awards, and two Orville H. Gibson Awards.

In 2000, Shepherd played guitar on the end title theme for the animated feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

In September 2008, Fender Musical Instruments Corp. released the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Series Stratocaster, designed exclusively by Shepherd. In 2007, he released a critically acclaimed and two-time Grammy nominated DVD–CD project, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads. This documents Shepherd as he travels the country to jam with and interview the last of the authentic blues musicians. As they tour the backroads, Shepherd, with members of the Double Trouble Band, play with a host of blues greats including Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Bryan Lee, Buddy Flett (with whom he jams at Lead Belly's grave), B. B. King, blues harp master Jerry "Boogie" McCain, Cootie Stark, Neal Pattman, John Dee Holeman, Etta Baker, Henry Townsend with Honeyboy Edwards, and a concert session with the surviving members of Muddy Waters' and Howlin' Wolf's bands, including Hubert Sumlin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and Pinetop Perkins. In 2010, Shepherd was nominated for a Grammy for Live in Chicago, which featured performances with Hubert Sumlin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Buddy Flett, and Bryan Lee. In 2011, Shepherd released his seventh CD, titled How I Go, on Roadrunner Records. In 2014 he released "Goin Home" on Mascot Label Group in Europe and on Concord Records in the US and the rest of the world. In 2015 Shepherd released "Something From the Road Vol. 1," a live special release for Record Store Day in the U.S.

Shepherd (right) and Stephen Stills perform as The Rides in Boston, 2013

In January 2017, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band went into the studio with producer Marshall Altman to record a new album of all newly written songs titled Lay It On Down and released the album on August 4 (July 21 in Europe on Mascot Label Group). Lay It On Down is the eighth record by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.

Shepherd made his Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival debut on 16 July 2019.[7]

On May 31, 2019, Shepherd released The Traveler on Concord Records and Mascot Label Group in Europe. The album, like the previous release Lay It On Down, was co-produced by Marshall Altman. The Traveler was chosen as a 'Favorite Blues Album' by AllMusic.[8]

Shepherd headlined the 2020 Mahindra Blues Festival, along with Buddy Guy, Larkin Poe and Keb Mo.[9]

The Rides[edit]

In 2013, Shepherd, along with Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills & Nash) and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag), formed The Rides. They released their debut album Can't Get Enough on August 27, 2013. Stills refers to the band as "the blues band of my dreams." The band toured the US in 2013 supporting their debut record, culminating with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The three reunited in 2015 for a follow-up album Pierced Arrow, released on 429 Records and Mascot Label Group in Europe in 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Shepherd married Hannah Gibson, the oldest daughter of actor Mel Gibson, on September 16, 2006.[10] The couple has five children: three daughters and two sons.

Blues Foundation controversy[edit]

In March 2021, the Blues Foundation revoked Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s 2021 Blues Music Awards nomination for Best Blues/Rock Artist. According to a statement from the organization, the decision was made over Confederate flag imagery displayed on Shepherd’s The Dukes of Hazzard “General Lee” car replica.

Shepherd acknowledged the offensiveness of the flag on his car and said he had permanently covered it some time ago. "Years ago I put that car in permanent storage and some time ago, I made the decision to permanently cover the flag on my car because it was completely against my values and offensive to the African American community which created the music I love so much and I apologize to anyone that I have unintentionally hurt because of it." In addition to the Foundation’s rescindment of Shepherd’s nomination, the organization has asked Shepherd’s father, Ken Shepherd, to step down as a member of its Board of Directors. Ken Shepherd declined to comment on being asked to step down.[11]

Live performances[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications

1995 Ledbetter Heights
  • Released: September 19, 1995
  • Label: Giant
  • Formats: CD, CS
108 1 25
1997 Trouble Is...
  • Released: October 7, 1997
  • Label: Revolution
  • Formats: CD, CS
74 1 36
1999 Live On
  • Released: October 12, 1999
  • Label: Giant
  • Formats: CD, CS
52 1
2004 The Place You're In
  • Released: October 5, 2004
  • Label: Reprise
  • Formats: CD, DI
2007 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads
  • Released: January 23, 2007
  • Label: Reprise
  • Formats: CD, DI
164 1 52
2011 How I Go
  • Released: August 2, 2011
  • Label: Roadrunner
  • Formats: CD, DI, LP
52 1 86 92
2014 Goin' Home 25 1 77 82
2017 Lay It On Down
  • Released: August 4, 2017[21]
  • Labels: Concord and Provogue/Mascot Label Group
  • Formats:
1 27 100
2019 The Traveler
  • Released: May 31, 2019[23]
  • Labels: Concord and Provogue/Mascot Label Group
  • Formats:
103 1 12 94
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions


2010 Live! in Chicago
  • Released: September 27, 2010
  • Label: Roadrunner
  • Formats: CD
114 1 42
2020 Straight to you Live
  • Released: November 27, 2020
  • Label : Provogue
  • Formats: CD+DVD


Year EP details
2004 King's Highway EP
  • Released: October 7, 1997
  • Label: Reprise
  • Formats: CD, CS, DI


Year Song Peak chart positions Album
Main. Rock

1995 "Déjà Voodoo" 9 Ledbetter Heights
1996 "Born with a Broken Heart" 15
"Aberdeen" 23
1997 "Slow Ride" 3 Trouble Is...
1998 "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway" 3
"Blue on Black" 78 1
"Everything Is Broken" 10
1999 "In 2 Deep" 5 Live On
2000 "Was" 9
"Last Goodbye" 14
2004 "Alive" 13 The Place You're In
2005 "The Place You're In" 30
2011 "Never Lookin' Back" 36 How I Go
"Come on Over"
2014 "You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover" Goin' Home
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.


  1. ^ "Today in history". ABC News. Associated Press. June 12, 2014.
  2. ^ "Concord Records - Concord Music Group". Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Premiere New Song, "Baby Got Gone"". Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  4. ^ Huey, Steve. Biography for Kenny Wayne Shepherd at AllMusic
  5. ^ Biography for Kenny Wayne Shepherd at IMDb Retrieved January 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Harcourt, Nic (host) (February 12, 2011) [Recorded January 15, 2011]. "Kenny Wayne Shepherd" (performance and interview). Guitar Center Sessions. DirecTV.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Favorite Blues Albums | AllMusic 2019 in Review". AllMusic. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "Festival Report: Mahindra Blues 2020, Mumbai -". 2020-02-12. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  10. ^ "Mel Walks His Daughter Down the Aisle". Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  11. ^ Legaspi, Althea (19 March 2021). "Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Blues Music Awards Nomination Rescinded Over Confederate Flag Imagery". Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Beth Hart & Kenny Wayne Shepherd announce summer tour!". 27 February 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  14. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Chart History: Blues Albums". Billboard. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  15. ^ "Discography Kenny Wayne Shepherd". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  16. ^ "Discography Kenny Wayne Shepherd". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  17. ^ "Discography Kenny Wayne Shepherd". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  18. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK – Update 13.08.2011". Zobbel. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  19. ^ "kenny-wayne-shepherd-band - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  21. ^ Graff, Gary (June 1, 2017). "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Premieres 'Lay It On Down' Title Track: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Top 200 Albums". 2 January 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band announce 'The Traveler'". Blues Rock Review. March 29, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2019.

External links[edit]