Many are simply mesmerized watching his hands as they move over the strings. The sounds he is able to coax from the dobro testify to the genius of his talent. Whether he's performing in the dimly lit Bluebird Café in Nashville, or in the glaring sun at an outdoor folk music festival, he's a stand out. Johnny Bellar, what a fella!
Born in Springfield, Tennessee Johnny grew up with the sounds of the traditional country music that his father, an accomplished harmonica player loves so well. Very early Johnny showed a remarkable ear for music. Tuning other musicians' instruments while still in grade school, he began to teach himself the guitar at 14.
At age 15, Johnny began to concentrate on the instrument which would become his greatest love - the resophonic guitar. Listening for hours to Josh Graves and Brother Oswald, Johnny began to develop and perfect his own style of playing.
Within a year of his 1973 graduation from high school, Johnny entered and won the dobro competition at a contest in Murfreesboro (this would be the first of hundreds of contest wins!). Watching his performance was a friend of the legendary Stoneman Family. Within two weeks Johnny was performing with the group.
For 10 years Johnny toured and recorded with The Stonemans appearing on the Grand Ole Opry, "Hee Haw", "Nashville Now" and the "Ralph Emery Show". During his association with the Stoneman's, Johnny began to compose his own music. his instrumental "Sand Mountain" was recorded by the Stoneman's and continues to earn Johnny residuals as songwriter.
In 1984. Johnny became an original member of The New Tradition, a popular bluegrass group. After three years, touring with the group, Johnny left to pursue a solo career and continue with his composing.
In September of 1989, Johnny appeared in the opening act for Slim Whitman's Australian tour. He has performed numerous times at the Bluebird Café and other popular Nashville music spots, and was a musician at Opryland, USA. From 1990 to 1997. In 2005, Johnny B. won the 2005 National Resonator Guitar Championship. Boxcar Willie and Tommy Cash are among the artists Johnny has recorded with on albums spanning a musical spectrum from children's music to bluegrass, traditional country, classical and gospel. He currently has 10 solo albums of original music displaying a great versatility and musical styles.
Johnny has recorded several national radio commercials and demos for name songwriters. He tours with various artists, as well as working as a session musician. Recently, Johnny was one of four featured performers in two national tours for the "Masters of the Steel String Guitar." Sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. And by the way, he can frequently be found on stage at the grand old Opry as a member of Wilma Lee Cooper's Clinch Mountain Clan.
Even with a bustling performance schedule, Johnny continues to compose sophisticated and fascinating melodies for the dobro. A true genius, a remarkable innovator and a legend in the making.
They call him Johnny B!