Bruce Hornsby has built one of the most diverse, collaborative and adventurous careers in contemporary music. Drawing from a vast wellspring of American musical traditions, the singer/pianist/composer/bandleader has created a large and accomplished body of work and employed a vast array of stylistic approaches. Throughout this period, Hornsby has maintained the integrity, virtuosity and artistic curiosity that have been hallmarks of his work from the start.
Hornsby and his band The Range’s first album The Way It Is(1986) was steadily and slowly building in popularity in the U.S. when in August the title track exploded on BBC Radio One in England, then Europe, the rest of the world and finally in the United States. The record went on to sell three million records, the band played Saturday Night Live and opened for Steve Winwood, John Fogerty, Huey Lewis, the Grateful Dead and the Eurythmics before becoming headliners on their own tour supported by Crowded House.
Soon Hornsby was being approached regularly to collaborate with a broad range of musicians and writers, a demand that continues to this day. He has played on records for Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Bonnie Raitt (piano on her iconic “I Can’t Make You Love Me”), Willie Nelson, Don Henley, Bob Seger, Squeeze, Stevie Nicks, Chaka Khan, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), Leon Russell, Chris Whitley, Warren Zevon, Bernie Taupin, Brandon Flowers (of the Killers), Cowboy Junkies, Shawn Colvin, Bela Fleck, Randy Scruggs, Hillary Scott, the Wild Magnolias, Clint Black, Sara Evans, Clannad and many more. He has worked on his own records with Ornette Coleman, Jerry Garcia, Eric Clapton, Sting, Elton John, Mavis Staples, Phil Collins, Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Justin Vernon, among others. Along with his early collaborator, brother Jonathan Hornsby and latter-day partner Chip deMatteo, Bruce has co-written songs with Robert Hunter (the great Grateful Dead lyricist), Robbie Robertson, Don Henley, Leon Russell, Charlie Haden, Chaka Khan, and Jack DeJohnette. His songs have been recorded by another broad array of artists including Tupac Shakur (his iconic “Changes”), Akon, E-40, Chaka Khan, Don Henley, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, Mase, Randy Scruggs, and Robbie Robertson.
Over the years Hornsby has successfully ventured into bluegrass, jazz, classical, and even electronica, reflected on acclaimed releases like two projects with Ricky Skaggs- Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby (2007) and the live Cluck Ol’ Hen(2013), the jazz trio album Camp Meeting (2007) with Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride, and Solo Concerts (2014), a stylistic merging of traditional American roots music and the dissonance and adventure of modern classical music. This latter-day interest has led to an orchestral project spearheaded by Michael Tilson Thomas featuring this new music; the first performance occurred in January 2015 with Tilson Thomas’ New World Symphony.
His three Grammy wins (along with his ten Grammy losses!) typify the diversity of his career: Best New Artist (1986) as leader of Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Best Bluegrass Recording (1989) for a version of his old Range hit “The Valley Road” that appeared on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken Volume Two, and a shared award with Branford Marsalis in 1993 for Best Pop Instrumental for “Barcelona Mona”, a song written and performed for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Bruce’s long involvement with the Grateful Dead began when the group asked him to open two shows in Monterey, CA in the spring of 1987. Bruce and the Range continued to open shows for the Dead in 1988, 1989 and 1990, and after the tragic death of Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland the band asked him to play with them. He started winging it with them with no rehearsal for five nights at Madison Square Garden in September 1990,, and played more than 100 shows with them until March 1992. He continued to sit in with the band every year until Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995. He played in the first post-Dead band “The Other Ones” in 1998 (the album “The Strange Remain” chronicles that tour) and 2000. Bruce reunited with the band for the 50th Anniversary Fare Thee Well concerts in June and July 2015 at Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara,CA) and Soldier Field (Chicago). He appears on seven Grateful Dead records including “Infrared Roses” and “View From The Vault II”.