Cowboy Home       Favorite Music       First posted, Jan 6, 2007
Last update, Dec 16, 2007

Rich O’Brien

Rich O'Brien is an artist of extraordinary versatility.

Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls him ...."the house guitarist for the cowboy music revival," he's been inducted into the Western Swing Society's Hall of Fame, and his song writing won him a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. His newest release, "Be Ready Boys" is a duet recording with flat picking and old time country music legend Norman Blake. Rich O'Brien might best be described as a great American guitArtist. His playing spans a variety of influences, from swing and jazz, to tejano, traditional, and classical.

Rich O'Brien was born in rural Southwestern Missouri, when "America ruraled!" He credits his mother Gracie, a Carter Family style guitar player herself, with fostering his love of music. His ability to use the entire fretboard of the guitar was gift from his brother Paul, who O'Brien once described as "the best guitar player in the family."

Leaving home with less than ten dollars in his pocket and the vague promise of a prison guard job, Rich headed for Texas. There, he quickly fit in with local music scene, playing western swing with the likes of Tom Morrell and his Time-Warp Top Hands and touring with Country stars Moe Bandy, Gene Watson and Ray Price.

Texas is also home to Cowboy singers Don Edwards and Red Steagall, and O'Brien quickly found Western music's blend of traditional American folk and swing styles and Old West subject matter fit his style of playing and his love of history. It proved to be the genre in which he would make his biggest mark. Word of his playing, and also of his skill for arranging music quickly spread through a rapidly growing Western music scene. O'Brien has now played on or produced over one hundred and fifty recordings for such players as Don Edwards, Riders in the Sky, Waddie Mitchell, Stephanie Davis, Red Steagall and Marty Stuart. Most recently he produced the Sons of the San Joaquin's release for Western Jubilee, "Horses Cattle and Coyotes." Television and radio appearances include Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion", "The Grand Ole Opry", "The Roots of Country Music", Texas Connection", "The Music of The Wild West" and "On Stage".

Rich's talents have twice led to White House performances for former President George Bush. He regularly appears at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival at Melody Ranch, the Fandango De San Joaquin in Clovis, California, and the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Commercial work includes Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, and Dairy Queen.

His debut release on Western Jubilee, Seasons, Roads, and Faces, demonstrated for fans everywhere what insiders to the music industry have known for a long time, that O'Brien is a force in Western music. Dirty Linen says; "The distance between Gene Autry and Django Reinhardt never seemed more insignificant...." His new recording "Be Ready Boys," with Norman Blake is further proof of the versatility, talent and love for our musical roots that makes Rich O'Brien a great American guitArtist.

Credit, Scott O'Malley & Associates website

Rich O’Brien albums in my collection
Southwestern Souvenirs