In 1971 John McEuen was the force behind the gathering of legendary Nashville bluegrass musicians who joined with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a Southern California country-rock-jug band to create Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which Rolling Stone magazine declared to be "the most important album to come out of Nashville." This landmark album celebrates its fiftieth year in March 2022, and McEuen tells the story of the making of the album, discusses each of its thirty-eight songs, and includes never-before-seen photos taken by the author and his brother Bill McEuen, who produced the album.
After the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's cover of "Mr. Bojangles" became a surprise hit, McEuen asked Earl Scruggs if he would join the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on an album. Scruggs said yes—as did Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements, Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, and other country stars. For six days in the summer of 1971, the musicians sat in a circle facing one another, recording country and bluegrass standards in East Nashville's Woodland Studios. From it came the triple-disc set, Will the Circle Be Unbroken—one of the most iconic albums in country music history. It has played a prominent role in what is now called Americana music. Now, after fifty years, John McEuen invites readers to sit next to him in the circle and listen to the music.
Multi-instrumentalist John McEuen, best known as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, is a key figure in the history of American folk music. Born in Oakland, California, McEuen grew up outside of Los Angeles. He began playing the banjo at age seventeen. McEuen won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2009, performed on his old friend Steve Martin's The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, and received the 2016 Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album for his own solo project, Made in Brooklyn. He was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2017.