Peter Rowan (b. July 4, 1942, Boston, Massachusetts) is an American bluegrass musician and composer. Rowan plays guitar and mandolin, yodels and sings.
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From an early age, Rowan had an interest in music and eventually learned to play the guitar. At the age of twelve, he heard Elvis Presley for the first time and later, in junior high school, he formed a rockabilly band, the Cupids. Influenced by the blues musician Eric Von Schmidt, Rowan traded his electric guitar for an acoustic and began to play the blues. He was also influenced by the folk sound of Joan Baez. In college, he discovered bluegrass after hearing The Country Gentlemen and The Stanley Brothers. He soon discovered the music of Bill Monroe, and with some help from banjo player Bill Keith, he was to audition for Monroe who invited him to Nashville. Accompanied by Keith, Rowan went to Nashville and was hired in March 1965 as guitarist and lead vocalist of Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. His recording debut as a "bluegrass boy" took place on October 14, 1966 and he recorded a total of fourteen songs with Monroe before his tenure ended in the spring of 1967.
Rowan teamed up with David Grisman in 1967 forming the band Earth Opera which frequently opened for The Doors. In 1969, Rowan joined Seatrain, along with Richard Greene. In 1973, Rowan, together with Greene, Grisman, Bill Keith, and Clarence White formed the bluegrass band Muleskinner. The band released one album. The same year, (1973), Rowan and Grisman formed Old and in the Way with Greene, Jerry Garcia, and John Kahn. Greene was later replaced by Vassar Clements. Old and In the Way disbanded in 1974 and Rowan joined a rock band led by his brothers. Three years later, in 1977, he left his brother's rock band. For a time, he was touring with Richard Greene in Japan and playing clubs with fiddler Tex Logan. He also formed the Green Grass Gringos.
Rowan has been part of Mother Bay State Entertainers and played mandolin on their record of 1963, The String Band Project. He has recorded and performed with his brothers, Lorin and Chris, at various times, starting in 1972. Since then, he has been involved in many group and solo projects, including Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, and continues to tour. He composed songs performed by New Riders of the Purple Sage, including "Panama Red," "Midnight Moonlight" and "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy."
Rowan also features on In No Sense? Nonsense! an album by UK band Art of Noise. His is the voice (yodel) on "One Earth," the last song of the album. It was recorded 1987, and it was released by China Records and Chrysalis Records Ltd. that same year.
Rowan's released "Quartet" (2007), the second collaboration with guitarist and bluegrass musician Tony Rice. His most recent release is "The Old School" (2013) on Compass Records.
Peter Rowan is a Buddhist.