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Sturgill Simpson

John Sturgill Simpson (born June 8, 1978) is an American country music singer-songwriter and actor. As of October 2020, he has released five albums as a solo artist. His first two albums, High Top Mountain and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, were independently released in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The latter was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, listed 18th on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2014," and named among "NPR's 50 Favorite Albums of 2014." His third album, A Sailor's Guide to Earth, was released on Atlantic Records and was Simpson's first majorlabel release, later earning him Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy Awards while also being nominated for Album of the Year. Simpson's fourth album, Sound & Fury, was released on September 27, 2019. He released two albums of bluegrass music in 2020.


Background information From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Early life

John Sturgill Simpson was born in Jackson, Breathitt County, Kentucky. His given name, Sturgill, stems from his paternal grandmother's maiden name. His father was a Kentucky State Police Trooper who formerly worked undercover in narcotics, and his mother was a secretary; Simpson was their only child. Due to his father's work, Simpson's family moved to Versailles, outside Lexington, where Simpson attended Woodford County High School. His mother's family were coal miners, and he is the first male on her side of the family to not work in a strip mine or deep mine.


Simpson says of his educational career that he was "not a great student". His parents divorced when he was in the seventh grade, and he sold drugs and experimented with LSD during high school. He only "barely graduated" from Woodford High, enlisting in the United States Navy in his senior year. After three years in the Navy, where he worked in the Combat Information Center of a frigate, Simpson spent some time in Japan. He later lived in Everett and Seattle, Washington, where he waited tables at IHOP, before moving back home to Lexington, Kentucky.


2004-2013: Early performances and recordings

Simpson formed the Country/Rock band Sunday Valley in 2004, for which he played Guitar/Vocals, which played at the Pickathon festival in Portland, Oregon.


Simpson took a break from music, focusing on building a career at a Salt Lake City railroad freight-shipping yard for Union Pacific Railroad, which he eventually ended up managing. He credits his wife and friends with supporting what he characterized as a hobbyist focus on songwriting and playing to convincing him to actually focus on getting serious and trying to make music for a living. After playing local open mics and gigs, Simpson returned to Sunday Valley. The band toured and made an album. He and his wife moved to Nashville when the group disbanded in 2012.


After going solo, Simpson released his debut album "High Top Mountain" in 2013, which he self-funded, self-released, and had cut in Nashville before signing to British independent label Loose, who released the album in Europe in 2014. The album was produced by Dave Cobb. Among the session musicians were Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano and Robby Turner, a former guitarist for Waylon Jennings, on steel guitar.  The record is named after a cemetery near Jackson where many of Simpson's family members are buried. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic rated High Top Mountain 3 and half stars out of 5, comparing its sound favorably to Waylon Jennings. The album's style has also been compared to Merle Haggard's. Erik Ernst of the Milwaukee Journal­Sentinel also compared it to Jennings, saying that it had "rich vintage sounds, heartbreaking ballads, and juke-joint ramblers".

2014-2016: «Metamodern Sounds» in Country Music

In 2014, Simpson released his second album produced by Dave Cobb, "Metamodern Sounds" in Country Music to positive reviews. The album's lead single is "Living the Dream". The record is described as a "deep and unconventional relationship between traditionalism and new ways of thinking," and deviates from Simpson's more traditional hard country debut. Simpson said that "recording and mixing was done in five and a half days for about $4,000. I was pretty proud about that." The album made two separate "Top Albums of 2014" lists in The New York Times (ranking 4th and 8th) and was also called the best album of the year by American Songwriter. Simpson made his US network television debut on July 14, 2014, on the Late Show with David Letterman, playing "Life of Sin". That year, he would go on to play "Living the Dream" on a September episode of Conan, "Turtles All the Way Down" on an October episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and "The Promise" on a December episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers. In 2015, he returned to The Late Show and Conan playing "Long White Line" in February and "Just Let Go" in April (respectively). He has also played the Grand Ole Opry and at Austin City Limits. He has opened for artists like Dwight Yoakam, Willie NelsonMerle Haggard, and the Zac Brown Band

His cover of "The Promise" by 1980s band "When In Rome" was featured in the Season 2 Episode 9 of the HBO series The Leftovers in November 2015 Simpson also wrote and performed the theme song to the Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger-produced TV show, Vinyl. The song is called "Sugar Daddy." As of July 2015, Simpson's songs are represented by Downtown Music Publishing - an agreement that followed his record deal with Atlantic Records.

2016-present: «A Sailor's Guide to Earth»

In March 2016, Simpson released the first track from his third album, A Sailor's Guide To Earth, a song called "Brace For Impact (Live A Little)." The record is a commemoration of the birth of Simpson's son, and features work by The Dap-Kings from Brooklyn's Daptone Records, was well as a cover of Nirvana's, "In Bloom." Simpson self-produced the record – Dave Cobb, who produced his prior records, did not work on this record, marking a departure from prior efforts. Simpson also created the record with a focus on sequencing, and recorded tracks live. The record marks his major label debut. It was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy Awards.

In January 2017, Simpson appeared on the Felicity Jones-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live, playing "Keep It Between the Lines" and "Call to Arms."

Simpson had planned to take a break from touring for the entirety of 2017 to focus on his family, but reconsidered after his Grammy nominations. He began touring again in May 2017 by playing a show at the Wharf Amphitheater in Orange Beach, Alabama, with Margo Price. He also performed as the opening act for three shows during the Guns N' Roses "Not in this Lifetime" tour in the summer of 2017. He helped produce fellow Kentucky singer/songwriter Tyler Childers' 2017 album Purgatory after being introduced to Childers by drummer Miles Miller. Simpson would work with Childers again as producer on his next album, 2019's Country Squire.

2018-present: «Sound & Fury» and «Cuttin' Grass»

In a March 5, 2018, interview on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Simpson revealed that he was working on his fourth studio album, and hinted that it would be a double album, though this was ultimately not the case. The title, Sound & Fury, was announced on July 21, 2019, at the San Diego Comic-Con, with Simpson describing it as a "sleazy, steamy rock'n'roll record". A companion anime film bearing the same name was also released on Netflix. The album was officially made available for pre-order on August 20, 2019, with the track "Sing Along" being released the same day. The album itself was released to positive reviews on September 27. Breaking with Simpson's established country style, it featured a fuzzy hard rock sound augmented by extensive use of synthesizers, influenced by psychedelia, funk, and electronic rock. The tracks "Sing Along" and "A Good Look" both featured music videos which included clips from the anime. Pitchfork praised the album as "synth-rock at its scuzziest". 

Simpson was originally going to perform at the Woodstock 50 music festival in August 2019, before the festival's cancellation.

On October 16, 2020, Simpson released his first bluegrass album, titled Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions. 


The album features 20 songs, including bluegrass renditions of tracks culled from his first three albums, as well as songs dating back to his mid-2000s band Sunday Valley.


The album was Simpson's first release on Thirty Tigers, to which he was signed after ending his contract with Elektra.


On December 11, 2020, Simpson released Cuttin' Grass, Vol. 2, consisting of 12 more bluegrass recordings that Simpson was "too afraid to do on volume 1."

Acting career

Simpson made his acting debut with a cameo in the 2011 indie film Orca Park. In 2018, he also had a role in the short film Black Hog Gut. He secured his first substantial role the same year, appearing in several episodes of the CBS All Access television series One Dollar, in which he plays the part of Ken Fry, a laid-off steel mill worker who sells stolen goods. In 2019, he wrote and performed the theme song for Jim Jarmusch's horror-comedy movie The Dead Don't Die, in which he also appeared as "Sturgill Zombie". A short time later, he secured a role as a police officer who is killed in a struggle with one of the protagonists in the movie Queen & Slim,  and in 2020, he also appeared in the horror movie The Hunt.

Musical style

Simpson is often compared to Waylon Jennings and the Outlaw Country genre of country music. Shooter Jennings says, "Sturgill isn't imitating at all, and he sounds like my favorite era of my dad, the Seventies, when he would sing quieter and more conversational. That's what struck me about Sturgill from Day One. And still does." Simpson himself counts Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Keith Whitley, and Marty Robbins as much bigger influences on his sound than Waylon Jennings. Simpson has also stated he tries to base his career around that of Dwight Yoakam. Indeed, Country Music Television noted that Simpson had "a voice that recalls Merle Haggard [and] guitar licks that bring Buck Owens to mind." His overall sound was described by Indiewire as "a mesmerizing and sometimes bewildering mix of traditional country sounds, contemporary philosophy, and psychedelic recording-studio wizardry."

Personal life

Simpson's song "Oh Sarah", from A Sailor's Guide to Earth, is dedicated to his wife, and his song “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)” is dedicated to his first son. The couple have three sons.


Simpson is a Kentucky Colonel, having been honoured at the Kentucky State Capitol on March 20, 2018. Rep. James Kay described Simpson as "independent" and "very proud to be from our great Commonwealth," calling Metamodern Sounds in Country Music "one of the best albums of all time ... pure Kentucky and ... pure Sturgill Simpson."


Videos, Downloads

*Immanuel Kant


Created: 20180802

Updated: 20190205 | 20201225

Wikipedia: This page was last edited on 21 December 2020, at 20:58 (UTC).