As a small child playing in the dirt of Henry County,Virginia, Clinton Gregory knew his life was going to differ from all those around him, but he could not have anticipated the great highs and lows his life adventures would bring.
A fifth-generation fiddle player, Clinton was born into a family steeped in traditional country music; he carried the family past-time across state lines, moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1987, to share his God-given, natural talent and the heart and soul ambition to keep American Music, and his heritage, alive.
During the early 1990s, Gregory celebrated a string of successes with the release of six national recording
projects, eleven charting singles [including "Play, Ruby Play," “(If It Weren't For Country Music) I'd Go Crazy" and "Who Needs It"] and he performed alongside musical super stars such as Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt, Aaron Tippin, Billy Dean, Pam Tillis, Tanya Tucker, Joe Diffie, Mark Chestnutt, The Statler Brothers and many others. Making his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1990, Gregory enjoyed the privilege of gracing the stage at the Mother Church of country music nearly 30 times over, including the cherished moment in February 1992 when his father joined him and they performed for the very last time as father and son. (Gregory’s father passed just two short months later).
Six brief years after the newcomer’s chart and tour successes skyrocketed, Gregory’s life began to unravel and the foundation he had built came crashing down. Trials and tribulations appeared around every corner: the loss of his record deal, steadily declining tour dates and heart-breaking personal difficulties including a divorce and the separation from his two little girls, Haley and Ali. The year 1996 would begin what Gregory refers to as the “lost years” where he purposely became “hard to find;” separating himself from friends, family and faith, his journey took him down a long dark road as he searched for direction, purpose and meaning--in all the wrong places.
“When God wants to get your attention, He will get it. I lost everything four or five times. I lost my family, home, and car all in one day. It had to happen for me to learn. …and I learned a lot from a park bench. The experience readied me for the rest of my life.”
Seeing gray, day after day, Gregory revisited his direction to rely on his faith in God for everyday necessities, while life became his muse, hope fed his hunger and music his healer. His “lost years” led Gregory through scenes that could be scripted in dramatic and tragic screenplays and Hollywood films. He crossed paths with gangs, shook hands with dope dealers and walked away from punks with guns. Along the way, God also put “good” before him; Clinton befriended the great Hank Cochran who he says was his oak and taught him the most valuable thing in life and music – how to listen.
“We have to listen to God; we should listen to our friends and loved ones. To meet their needs, we have to hear them. The trick is to get people to truly listen; most of the time we listen but don’t fully hear. It’s the same thing with music; you have to get the audience to hear the music and the words. I realized even the songs I had cut, I didn’t know what they meant. This time, I want to be heard.”
Retrieved from the “lost and found” in 2005, Gregory’s talents were sought out by one of Rock and Roll’s greatest songwriters and performers. The legendary Neil Young extended the personal invitation to Clinton to appear on two projects in the works; Gregory is featured on Young’s CD, PRAIRIE WIND, and he played fiddle and sang back-up vocals on the guitar hero’s autobiographical film Neil Young: Heart of Gold. PRAIRIE WIND debuted on the Billboard Album 200 Chart at No. 11 (charting for 27 consecutive weeks), was recognized as a “Top 100 Editor’s Picks of 2005” (Amazon.com) and nominated for two Grammy awards including “Best Rock Album Of The Year.” The Neil Young: Heart of Gold film, documenting Young’s decorated history, spotlights PRAIRIE WIND tracks as well as other selections. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released to theaters in February of 2006.
The Godsend relationships (formed with Cochran, Young and current producer, Jamie Creasy) made for an awakening. With a brand new understanding of music and the power of lyrics, the support and belief of his friends, and a new lease on life, Gregory put pen to paper and began to develop his own songwriting craft-- determined to re-enter the world of entertainment as a multi-faceted artist: a world-class fiddle player, singer, songwriter and performer worth hearing.
“I live, eat and breath music. I intend to conquer the world, to revive traditional country music, one song at a time. The past, in all things, is a good well to draw from and my well is deep!”
Gregory’s 2012 album, TOO MUCH AIN’T ENOUGH (co-produced by Gregory and Jamie Creasy, president of Melody Roundup Music) opens the door to the place he calls “home” revealing his sense of humor, his vision and his deeply rooted passion for raw and real traditional country music.
After a 17-year departure from the spotlight as a performer and sought-after fiddle player, both in-studio and on stage, the project is the product of humility, tragedy and light.
“In a way, I feel like I’m starting all over again, but I’m just picking up where I left off. We recorded music that will change your mood, make you pull over on the side of the road and weep, make you smile or even wreck your day.”
The composition is drenched in emotional transparencies, tall tale stories and tell-all narratives, and resurrects the infinite fiber the country music format was built upon. Showcasing the varied emotions of life, relationships and inner-struggles, TOO MUCH AIN’T ENOUGH carries the listener on a journey reflective of Gregory’s life experiences, capturing self re-discovery, heartache and hopelessness, loneliness and desperation, religious convictions and much more.
“I’ve done enough wrong in my life and now I want to do something right. TOO MUCH AIN’T ENOUGH is my something right. It’s my lost and found and I hope it’s discovered and enjoyed by those who listen.”
Clinton’s resurgence has met with open arms and a welcoming ear by music critics, radio and his fans. In 2013, he returns to his roots with the unveiling of The Clinton Gregory Bluegrass Band (TCGBB) and the debut release in America’s famed pickin’ genre with a 12-track album ROOTS OF MY RAISING (co-produced by Jamie Creasy and Scott Vestal/May 2013).
The Clinton Gregory Bluegrass Band is comprised of accomplished players who have lent their talents to number of famed projects: Harold Roper/banjo and baritone; Doug Flowers/mandolin and tenor (has appeared with Alison Krauss, Earl Scruggs, Little Roy Lewis and Betty Fisher); Scott Terry/bass and harmonica (offered his music expertise to Heartland, The Lewis Family and more) and fronted by Clinton Gregory (on fiddle and lead vocals). In a time-honored recording and production style, Scott Vestal captured the sound “live” as each musician called and answered to one another’s instrumentation in real time.
TCGBB pays homage to timeless arrangements like “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” “How Mountain Girls Can Love” and “Somehow Tonight.” As an honorable nod to the forefathers, Gregory tips his hat to Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers and Flatt & Scruggs while the Bluegrass band showcases “newgrass” interpretations of Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis and Lefty Frizzell favorites. In the company of traditional standards, Gregory displays his fiddle wizardry in the age-old rosin and bow tune “Katy Hill.” The project is a fine-tuned creation inspired from the long and winding road traveled throughout Gregory’s career; “a record 40 years in the making.”