Crowe, J.D. (and the New South)


  • From Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 1955, began his career as a member of Mac Wiseman’s band.
  • 1956, joined Jimmy Martin’s band, The Sunny Mountain Boys and established himself as one of the top banjo players in the world
  • 1966, formed his own group The Kentucky Mountain Boys which included Doyle Lawson and Larry Rice. Red Allen joined in 1968.
  • 1971, changed band name to The New South. Early band included Tony Rice, Larry Rice and Bobby Slone. Doyle Lawson replaced Larry Rice (after a short stint with Jimmy Martin), and Lawson was later replaced by Ricky Skaggs.
  • Other New South alumni: Jerry Douglas, Keith Whitley, Jimmy Gaudreau, Paul Adkins, Wendy Miller, Gene Johnson (of Diamond Rio), Tony King (of Brooks and Dunn), Phil Leadbetter, Rick Pardue, many others.
  • Was also a member of the legendary Bluegrass Album Band (with Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Bobby Hicks and Todd Phillips).
  • 1990, retired from music (became a mail carrier) but returned in 1992 with a new version of The New South.
  • 2000, his band members left en masse (with Crowe’s blessing) to form a new group called Wildfire.
  • 2003, was inducted into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.
  • 1994, 2004, won IBMA Award for Banjo Player of the Year.
  • 2004, was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
  • 2007, won IBMA award for Album of the Year (“Lefty’s Old Guitar”)
  • 2011, won the IBMA Award for “Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year” and “Recorded Event of the Year” (both for “Prayers Bells of Heaven” by J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson and Paul Williams)
  • 2012, retired again (this time for good) and disbanded The New South, most of whom formed a new band called American Drive.
  • 2012, his biography was published by the University of Illinois press titled Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J.D. Crowe written by Marty Godbey.
  • 2012, was presented with an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Kentucky.
  • He was a long-time member of the IBMA’s Trust Fund Board of Directors.
  • 2021, died at the age of 84 on Christmas Eve.