Raised near the Appalachian Trail in southwestern Virginia, JD Myers spent his youth watching the truckers plow through town on their way to anywhere else. Troutville had three traffic lights and a Waffle House and Myers knew that like the big rigs, he was headed for someplace bigger.
It all began August 16, 1977, the day Elvis Presley died.
Myers was 3, but the memory is still vivid for him today. His father, then a truck driver for Pepsi-Cola, had just come home from work and was reclining in his favorite chair. His mom was doing laundry. Network newscasters kept interrupting the TV: The King was dead.
"I was a little guy and my parents had this big console TV and I remember watching it all night and I knew this was something huge," Myers says, "I remember feeling the despair. I was hurt by it. It was all I heard for weeks and it was my first memory of Elvis. His death was the beginning of music for me. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be doing this."
His mom had a scratchy copy of "G.I. Blues" and he played the grooves out of it. She bought him a box set of Elvis music, and Myers memorized every note. She bought him a left-handed guitar and paid for lessons.
"They never taught me what I wanted to know," Myers says. "I wanted to play 'That's All Right Mama' and they were more concerned with teaching me to read music."
Later a Cherokee truck driver- who once played a date with Johnny Cash and was Myers' personal hero- taught the then 14-year old a few chords on that guitar.
Reticent offstage, Myers learned by watching the best.
"Waylon Jennings, Buddy Holly, Rick Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle were influences on me," says Myers.
At one talent show Myers won $100 and a recording session. What he ended up with was a bogus road trip to Nashville and enough broken promises to jade even a 16-year-old. The trip wasn't a total loss. By chance, Myers met Michael Knox on a stairwell in a Nashville office building. The pair bonded over their mutual love of rockabilly. Impressed by the youngster's raw unpolished talent and drive, he promised to help.
Michael, now a successful Nashville record producer and the son of rockabilly legend Buddy Knox, had just joined Warner/Chappell Music, where he secured JD a songwriting deal with the prestigious publishing house. At the age of 19, he was recording demos and teaming up with some of Nashville's best writers.
"Over the course of two years I started to learn the craft of songwriting and really improved dramatically as a musician." Myers explains.
JD quickly developed a style all his own and caught the ears of Asylum Records A&R representative Kara Rosen at a showcase for another record label, and was offered a deal with Asylum within a week. Two years later Asylum released the video, "When I Think About You" to CMT. It became one of the most played music videos of 1997. One year and another single later, JD left the Asylum Records roster. "We didn't see eye to eye on anything really." Myers explains. "I felt and still feel that an artist should have more control over his music. After all, it is their name, voice, songs, image, and reputation that are on the line."
Myers states he learned some important lessons during that time in his life. "It's the Nashville way. You play their game or you don't play. I'm not the first to learn that the hard way and I sure won't be the last. It is unfortunate that many of the folks who were there when the times were great and the future looked bright amazingly disappeared or started to back off when the going got tough. I received a crash course on how plastic of a town Nashville really is. Too many times there are hidden agendas that drive the actions of music row. I don't have patience for the whole politic game. I do my best to be real and do the right thing. I like being able to sleep at night. That goes for how I treat others and how I approach my music. Waylon Jennings once told me that above everything else, I have to be true to myself. I've never forgotten that." Today, JD continues to take his hero's advice. "It may take a little longer doing it my way, trying to do my own thing, but I'll have no regrets."
We believe once you've heard JD Myers you'll be a believer too. His music is, well, "Like A Train".