guitarist, producer and singer-songwriter from Hometown, Illinois, who
started playing guitar when he was about ten or twelve and was playing the
club circuit when he was only fifteen.
The Belands moved to L.A. and John found himself right at
home at The Troubador, a hotbed of country-rock,
frequented by artists such as Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Larry Murray, and Linda
asked him to help her put together a backup band, and it was called Swampwater.
The band comprised John, Gib Guilbeau, Stan Pratt, and Eric White. Needless to say, it worked out
pretty well. Linda was well on
the way to a staggeringly successful solo career, and Swampwater
even got to record a couple of albums under their own name. They opened for established artists
and groups such as The Byrds, Arlo
Guthrie, The Nitty
Gritty Dirt Band.
Arlo was so
impressed that he asked them to leave Linda and come and tour with
him. They appeared with him
onstage at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert tribute to his father, Woody
Guthrie, which was immortalized on vinyl in 1972. (A live version is also enshrined in
The Library of Congress.)
1973, John quit the band and went on the road with Johnny Tillotson.
Their adventures took them all over the globe, including a stop in
England, where Johnny put John in touch with Apple Records bigwig, Tony
King. Tony was enamoured of John’s singing and songwriting and,
with Ringo Starr’s OK, awarded him with a
Unfortunately, Apple was entangled in a legal mess at the time, and John Edward Beland
was released on Scepter Records, instead. John does have the dubious distinction
of being the last act signed by Apple, however.
1974, Kris Kristofferson asked him to join his band, and John performed and
recorded with him until being snapped up by The Bellamy Brothers. This is where John’s
incredible streak of luck really begins: He performed on “Let Your Love
Flow”, which was a massive crossover hit, and took part in the
subsequent, nation-wide tour. Then
Kim Carnes asked him to play on her album, Sailing, which resulted in another series of live dates,
opening for Neil Sedaka, no less.
1976, John nearly wound up in Elvis Presley’s band, but was left odd
man out when James Burton decided to stay on-board as guitarist to The
King. Mac Davis hired him,
instead, and although it was not the best experience of his musical career,
it did result in a friendship with Mac’s opening act, Dolly
Parton. Dolly asked him if he
would like to go on tour with her, and he did, right at the time that “Here
You Come Again” was making waves on the country and pop charts.
John received an offer he couldn’t refuse: An opportunity to perform with one
of his childhood idols, Ricky Nelson.
He joined Ricky’s band in 1978, appearing on TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and performing
live dates throughout the United States. John also arranged Ricky’s
last big hit, a re-working of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”.
1979, Swampwater reunited briefly for one more
album, simply titled, Reunion. It indirectly led to John being
asked to join The Flying Burrito Brothers, just in time for a tour of
Italy, of all places. John had
an immediate impact on the band, which shortened its name to “The
Burrito Brothers”, penning a number of hits, such as “She
Belongs to Everyone but Me” and “She’s a Friend of a
his tenure with the group, they charted nine times and were awarded “Best
New Vocal Group of the Year” (ironic, as they had been around since
the late ‘60s) and “Number One Crossover Group” kudos
from magazines such as Billboard,
Cashbox, and Record World. In
1982, they were asked to help induct another one of John’s childhood
heroes, Lefty Frizzell, into The Country Music
Hall of Fame. John and Gib Guilbeau, also of The
Burrito Brothers, splintered off to form The Pick-Ups and went on a tour
Down Under in 1983. In 1984,
The Burrito Brothers aired their swan song on Music City Tonight, a huge television program at the time in
did a brief stint with Nicolette Larson’s backing band, while planning
to move back to L.A. and get his old job back with Ricky Nelson. On 31st December 1985,
one day before John was set to return, Ricky Nelson and his band were all
killed in an airplane crash.
John was obviously devastated by the news, and decided to stay in
turned out to be a good non-move:
Soon he found himself working on the hugest country and western hit
ever, a Garth Brooks cover of Mark Chesnutt’s “Friends in Low
Places”. John, who
clearly had a knack for making friends in high places, focused on his
songwriting and found his works being recorded by acts as disparate as Mark
Farner and The Whites.
a short-lived collaboration with Bobby Bare and Pulleybone,
John re-joined The Flying Burrito Brothers for a tour of France and
Spain. This resulted in the
recording of the live album, Encore –
Live in Europe 1990.
1990, another reunion took place, this time with John performing on The
Bellamy Brothers’ hit, “She Don’t Know That She’s
Perfect”. John also
co-wrote “Cowboy Beat” with the Bellamys,
and it peaked at #23 on the country chart and garnered him an ASCAP award
Flying Burrito Brothers flew around the world again in 1994 and played live
dates throughout Europe, including concerts in Austria, Germany, and
Switzerland. They also entered
the recording studio again for a pair of albums, California Jukebox and Sons
of the Golden West. Unfortunately,
while working on California Jukebox,
Gib had a heart attack and subsequently
retired. The band continued to
tour Australia and Hawaii in 2000, then decided to
call it a millennium.
September of the same year, John returned to the stage with Severin Browne.
Then he released his first solo album in decades, Bare Bones, in 2001. He has continued to perform on and
produce records, and still enjoys an international fan base in countries
including Canada, England, Ireland, Norway and Scotland.
2007, he appeared at Norway’s Ose Festival
and then released a concert video entitled Lindesneshallen. December 2009 found him performing
several live dates at the Stone Cellar in Round Top, Texas.
has recently been working on the autobiography, Younger Than Yesterday (A Life in Country Rock) and contributes
book and music reviews to amazon.com.
The Burrito Brothers recordings
Blue and Broken Hearted Me (Buddy Cannon/Raleigh Squires)
She’s a Friend of a Friend (John Beland/Gib