Jimmy Mattingly Biography

Jimmy Mattingly grew up on a farm just North of Leitchfield, Kentucky and was influenced by his Dad, Edward Mattingly who was a fiddle player, and a musical family that went back generations. Every weekend was a jam session around the Mattingly household. At the age of 9 Jimmy began sneaking his Dad’s fiddle out of the case after school, with the help of his Mom, Sue Mattingly. He wanted to see what he could figure out on this instrument his Dad played frequently. He would ask his Dad to play for him and he soaked up some things to try the following day. After a couple of Months of this, Jimmy’s Mom told his Dad he might want to listen to Jimmy play the fiddle. Much to Ed’s Surprise Jimmy had figured quite a bit out. Jimmy soon got his own fiddle and found his lifelong passion. In the rural County of Grayson County KY was the begginings of a very successful Orchestral program that was started as Jimmy entered the 6th grade. The Orchestra was directed by Jesse Haycraft. Jimmy says he owes so much to Mr. Haycraft. It was a very successful Program and spawned many successful fiddle players. During his time in the Grayson County Youth Orchestra, Jimmy recieved 12 superior medals as a Classical violinist. During this time Jimmy also became a very successful contest fiddler winning four Kentucky State Championships, four Tennessee State championships, and the 1981 Grand Masters Invitational National Fiddle Championship. Jimmy earned an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of country music legend Roy Acuff at age of eighteen after winning the Grand Masters. The following week after winning the Grand Masters Jimmy was asked to join the All Star Bluegrass band, Spectrum. Spectrum was a Rounder Recording Artist consisting of, Bela Fleck, Jimmy Guedreau, Glenn Lawson and Mark Schatz. He recorded 2 albums with Spectrum before the band disbanded. After the disbanding of Spectrum, Jimmy landed at House band gig in Louisville KY with Oklahoma Native and 70’s Hit Country Artist, Mike Lunsford. In that band Jimmy played along side Steel guitar legend, Tommy White.

In 1984 Jimmy was asked to Join chart topping vocal group, The Forester Sisters as the fiddle player and utility person. The Forester Sisters were opening shows for many giants in the Country Music world such acts as Ricky Skaggs, Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, and Randy Travis. After almost 5 years, in early 1989 Jimmy left to do a single promotional tour with Steve Wariner. The song, “Where did I go Wrong” was out and Steve needed a fiddler player for a few months. After accepting the job with Steve the door was opened for Gary Smith, Husband at the time of Christy Forester of the Forester Sisters, to offer Jimmy the prestigous job with Dolly Parton’s “Mighty Fine Band”. This was a huge opportunity for Jimmy. The band would be touring and recording all of Dolly’s albums for the next 5 years. After the 5 years were completed Jimmy went on to record Dolly’s “Heartsongs” album with an allstar cast of musicians. In late 1984 Jimmy had begun recording on several contemporary Christian records and became aquainted with Susan Ashton. Jimmy recorded and toured with Susan. In the Fall of 1994 Jimmy was asked to play in Susan’s band opening for the Garth Brooks’ European leg of his tour. It was an amazing opportunity for all. During the tour Jimmy met Garth and his crew. He was impressed with Garth and everyone on his team. Jimmy says, “Garth and his crew made everyone feel like part of their family”. The following Spring, during the recording of Garth Brook’s Fresh Horses album, Jimmy was asked to come in to play on the track, “Fever”. It was an opportunity that would change his life and lead him to being a part of one of the most successful tours of all time. Jimmy felt like he had found his home and toured with Garth all through the late 90’s. He was a part of the record breaking Live in Central Park show, the Ireland and Back show as well as, at the time, a record breaking Arena tour, later to be broken by Brooks himself. Jimmy played fiddle on the recording of “Wrapped up in you” as well as joining Garth and cast for the Video. Jimmy was honored to get the occasional nod to record with Garth but the fulltime slot belonged to 2023 Hall of Fame honoree, Rob Hajacos who played on Garth’s recording from the beginning. Jimmy has stated,”What Rob played on Garth’s music is perfection and it is always an honor to play those parts!”

When Garth took a break in 2000 to devote more time to his children Jimmy was on the look for something to do for the next 14 years. In 2000 he was asked to Join Steve Wariner for his “Hands of Time” tour. Garth came out of retirement briefly and did the Coast to Coast shows. Jimmy stated, “at the completion of the 3 city tour while flying home he got a call to do an album and possible tour with Dolly”. It was the “Halos and Horns” record and tour. He joined his longtime pal and 5 time National Banjo Champion as well as member of the National Banjo Hall of Fame, Gary Biscuit Davis on the tour and Davis produced the Album alongside Dolly. They toured the Us and Europe, at the completition of that tour Jimmy was feeling like playing more bluegrass and frequenting the Station Inn gave him and a couple of Pals the idea to start their own band, “The Grascals”. After hearing a couple of songs Ken Irwin Co-Founder of Rounder Records signed the band to a multi album deal. After hearing of this Dolly called upon the Grascals to record and join her for a tour. For the next couple of years they toured the US. The Grascals were 2 time International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the Year and Song of the year recipient, 2 time Grammy Nominated Artist for Bluegrass Album of the Year. After disbanding for a short time Dolly fired up again with a more commercial band and Jimmy remained with Dolly for the recording and touring. The tour lasted for a couple of years and after the completion of that tour Jimmy began working with Reba McEntire for a 5 year tour. By this time 2014 was geeting closer and Jimmy was anticipating his longtime boss, Garth Brooks was thinking about heading out on tour again. Jimmy stated, “Reba was the coolest about my departure” When asked when she wanted the band leader to find his replacement, she said ”Let him stay as long as he wants”. Jimmy says, “She is a first class entertainer and person. She brings it every night”. There was never any question with anybody that Jimmy worked with after 1995 that he would always answer the call from Garth.The next 4 years would bring one of the most successful arena tours of all time with, Garth Brooks. Playing to well over 6 million fans and playing a record number of shows. It was like making it to the playoffs in Baseball or maybe Hockey, says Mattingly. “Exciting and grueling and everything I had ever dreamed of Doing”, says Mattingly. For a short time after finishing the arena tour Jimmy had the honor of joining up with Trisha Yearwood’s amazing band for the “Every Girl” Tour.“It is so inspiring to hear a singer like Trisha Yearwood sing every night!”says Jimmy. “The symphony shows with Trisha singing are so amazing” says Jimmy. In 2018 The Garth Brooks Stadium tour began and once again it was record breaking crowds every night. “Battling through the Covid shut down was trying and left my soul hungry for Music”, Mattingly says. Jimmy performed with Garth on occasion during this time but caught up on family time with his wife, Ginger and Children, Ethan, Ansley and Emmy. He also began recording and song writing much more in his home studio doing Overdubs for Dolly Parton, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company and many others. He also spent this time working on a musical, and helping to Produce music for different artists. When the Garth Brooks Stadium tour got the Green light to continue it was epic shows every weekend in sold out Stadiums. Averaging 95,000 tickets sold each city including a trip back to Dublin Ireland’s Croke Park for an unprecidented 5 Sold Out Shows. Jimmy was thankful to be back at doing what he Loves and has done most of his life. Mattingly is Thankful to still be touring with Longtime boss Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and is grateful for every moment. Jimmy says, “It has been an incredible blessing that God has lead me down the road I’m on. The music, the incredible Artists that I have been able to watch and work with, the amazingly gifted musicians I have been able to share the stage and studio with. The many friends that I have made that inspire me musically and personally. I have such a supportive family and an incredible wife that holds the fort down and has taken awesome care of our kids when things have gotten a little crazy at times. In Jimmy’s words he says”I am Grateful to everyone who has hired me and trusted in me to give my best to them every moment. Living in a small trailer with my Mom and Dad and 4 kids with no running water, when I was growing up, has helped me to appreciate more the Blessings that God has given me. I do believe all of this was his plan for me and for that I can’t be Thankful enough”

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