John Willingham

John is originally from Macon, GA where he had his first guitar lesson by the graves of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. His father, Alfred, was an accomplished amateur guitarist who shared his love of music and his eclectic tastes. The LPs stacked on the spindle of the family console contained everything from Miles Davis and John Coltrane to Bob Dylan, Flatt and Scruggs to Lightinin’ Hopkins.
John’s teen and college years were spent in North Carolina where he studied with prolific Mel Bay author Steve Griffin. With Steve’s help John acquired a solid foundation in music theory, sight reading, improvisation and other skills.
High school graduation arrived for John with three 1st place trophies from the annual East Mecklenburg Battle of the Bands, a concerto competition award and a first chair spot in the bass section of the Youth Symphony of the Carolinas, a position he gained after having played the double-bass for less than a year.
In college at Appalachian State University John took every music class he could while earning a degree in Economics. He played in the guitar and jazz ensembles (the highlight of which was an amazing concert with the great saxophonist Michael Brecker), studied classical guitar and taught the Guitar 101 class for non-music majors. He played with rock bands and performed frequently with his Jazz Ensemble friends at the many resorts and country clubs in the area.
It was during this time that John had the amazing experience of participating in four of the League of Crafty Guitar classes taught by King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp at Claymont Court in Charles Town, WV.
After college, John spent six months playing in a jazz quintet on a Carnival cruise ship before returning to Charlotte, NC where he spent a couple of years playing with local jazz and rock bands, teaching private lessons and playing pit orchestra gigs. While traveling with an excellent Charlotte quartet called Doubting Thomas John played at a new music room in Decatur, GA called Eddie’s Attic. Impressed with the music scene in the Atlanta area John decided to move back to Georgia. The opportunity came when the bass spot opened up in the popular Atlanta band, Doublewide.
For several years Doublewide blanketed the Southeast from Atlanta to New Orleans, and Memphis to Virginia Beach with their unique brand of Southern rock. Driven by the spectacular songwriting of Bradley Cole Smith, the band enjoyed an increasing wave of popularity throughout the 1990’s. Selling out Smith’s Olde Bar and the Chameleon Club almost every time they played there, Doublewide was in steady demand across the Southeast. Doublewide shared the bill with Blues Traveler, Iron Butterfly, Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain and others. The band played the Music Midtown festival and performed 21 times in 19 days during the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta. While playing with Doublewide at the legendary Zydeco concert hall in Birmingham, AL, John met his beautiful wife, Margaret. Margaret and John have two children, Olivia and Stokes, two dogs and two cats.
Throughout the 2000s John has played a steady stream of bars, restaurants, parties, weddings, and concerts. He has recorded several CDs with songwriters and singers and done session work for jingles and other projects (see Discography). John has worked with many of Atlanta’s excellent cabaret performers including Robert Ray and Libby Whittemore. He has played for the 500 Songs for Kids event every year since its inception in 2007. In recent years John has played in front of sold-out crowds at The Cobb Energy Center and the Buckhead Theater opening up for Ron White with Ron’s wife, Margo Rey.
John’s current projects include solo performances and work with several ensembles. Please check the calendar and come out and join John and his friends at one of their performances.

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