About John D. Willis

The Man Behind The Name

John D. WillisJohn Willis’ love for music began in the heart of cajun country, St. Martinville, Louisiana. It was banjo that first caught his interest at the age of 15. After discovering the music of Larry Carlton, Reggie Young, Robben Ford, and Albert Lee, Willis bought his first guitar.

At the age of 22, the aspiring musician moved to Los Angeles to study guitar at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology. After graduating, he moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a town that was popular for producing hit records for pop, country and R&B records. Before long, Willis was playing guitar on major records for artists acts like Shenandoah, Brian McKnight, The Impressions, and The Forrester Sisters, to name a few. He played sessions by day, club gigs by night, and practiced every chance in between. After paying his dues in Muscle Shoals for eight years, he caught the attention of David Briggs, a world-renowned pianist from Nashville, TN. Briggs saw something special in John and urged him to make the move to Nashville. The following week, he did.

For over two decades, Willis’ guitar has become a constant on country and pop radio. His recording credits include Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Georgia Florida Line, Rita Wilson, Leann Rimes, Craig Morgan, Gretchen Wilson, Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Alabama, Jewel, and India Arie. Frequently nominated for various awards, Willis was honored in 2002 with the “Guitarist of The Year” award from the Academy of Country Music.

Aside from being one of the most in-demand guitar players in country music, Willis has branched out into the world of composition and production. His original songs have been featured on CNN, The Sci-Fi Channel, PBS, The 700 Club, Lifetime, and the CMA Awards Show, and most recently in Cheetah Girls 3 and High School Musical 3 video games. When he is not hard at work in a Music Row studio, you’ll find John Willis at Willisoundz, his home studio where much of the magic happens.