An accomplished songwriter and multimillion-selling singer, Bruce Hornsby is an artist with hugely diverse tastes. A talented instrumentalist as well, he's been credited by Elton John with bringing the piano back into rock and roll.
Born in Williamsburg, Virginia, Bruce attended the University of Miami, and the muso-oriented Berklee College in Boston. After spending time in various bar bands, Bruce and his brother John moved to Los Angeles, where they were signed to 20th Century Fox as songwriters. He worked a variety of jobs, including touring as Sheena Easton's pianist (in 1983) while submitting material to various record labels. Forming a band called The Range, Bruce was eventually signed to the RCA label, where his debut album The Way It Is, garnered the band a Grammy as 1986's Best New Artist. It's sold over three million copies in the United States alone.
As he continued to record best-selling albums including Scenes from the Southside (including the top-10 single The Valley Road) and A Night on the Town, Hornsby supplied songs to acts including Huey Lewis (Jacob's Ladder), Willie Nelson (Nobody There but Me) and Don Henley (The End of the Innocence). He also became a popular guest instrumentalist, playing on sessions for a wide variety of artists, including Nelson; jazz fusion group Yellowjackets; Tom Wopat; Bernie Taupin; traditional Irish band Clannad; Kim Carnes; Patti Austin; Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, Stevie Nicks, and Bob Dylan.
It became evident some time along the way that his individualistic piano style fitted, of all things, bluegrass - a genre not noted for its piano players. Still, his version of The Valley Road with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band won a Grammy as 1989's Best Bluegrass Recording, and he contributed to Big Mon, a well-received Bill Monroe tribute album, as well as projects by Randy Scruggs and Bela Fleck. He won his third Grammy in 1993 for Barcelona, written and performed for the Barcelona Olympics with Branford Marsalis.
In 1987, Bruce opened a show for The Grateful Dead, of whom he'd been a long-time fan. Three years later, he joined the band as a temporary replacement following the death of their pianist, Brent Mydland. His cordial relationship with the Dead continues to this day; he's played with band splinter groups Phil Lesh & Friends; Broken Angels; and - most recently - The Other Ones.
It's difficult to remember that these - and there are plenty more - were sidelights to Hornsby's own touring, and albums that also include A Night on the Town; Harbor Lights; Hot House; Spirit Trail; the live double CD Here Come the Noisemakers; and 2002's Big Swing Face. His music has appeared on the soundtracks (and soundtrack albums) for films including Backdraft, Switch, and Tin Cup.
In 2004, Bruce signed with Columbia Records, where his debut album, Halcyon Days, features guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Sting, and finds Hornsby back on piano on every track. The single, the radio-friendly "Gonna Be Some Changes Made," is getting all sorts of airplay.
Bruce is already touring in support of the new album.