Grammy-nominated and member of the Musician’s Hall of Fame, Harry Stinson is one of the top session drummers and vocalists in Nashville.
A quadruple creative threat – drummer, producer, writer, and singer – Harry has worked with major names in pop, rock, country, and bluegrass. Peter Frampton, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Bob Seger, Donovan, Leon Russell, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Bette Midler, Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, George Jones, Marty Stuart, Neil Diamond, and Earl Scruggs are just the start of a very lengthy list. Then there has also been TV and film recording for the likes of Silent Rage, The Rose, Cheers and The Fox and the Hound 2.
Grand Ole Opry star Dottie West gave him his first professional job in summer of 1970. Working the road in package tours with Red Sovine she took him to the Opry stage where he rubbed shoulders with all the greats, including Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, both of whom he would record with years later.
His first big break came in 1974 when, with the tune ‘Tin Man’ topping the charts, the band America needed a drummer to sub for an ailing Willie Leacox. Within 24 hours and knowing only “Horse With No Name,” he played their show in front of thousands of fans with Willie holding a flashlight on his hastily made charts. This led Harry to California, where he joined the country/rock band Silver, a band signed to Arista Records. The group managed one top 20 hit in 1976, “Wham Bam Shang a Lang,” and after a couple of years they disbanded leaving Harry to hone his recording skills further by playing with Jay Ferguson, Al Stewart, Etta James, and Peter Frampton (that’s Harry on the ‘Out of Control’ album). Besides playing for television, he appeared in Bette Midler’s The Rose as well as contributing background vocals for Juice Newton on her first two albums, Juice, and Quiet Lies. That’s Harry singing on “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard on Me.”
After ten years in Los Angeles, and while on an exploratory trip back in his hometown of Nashville, Harry ran into an old friend Timothy B. Schmidt, who was at the time recording with Jimmy Buffett. Timothy lobbied for Harry to help out with the background vocals. That weekend, Harry sang on Jimmy’s Last Mango in Paris, an album that was being co-produced by legendary producer, Tony Brown. Tony immediately took Harry under his wing and introduced him to another singer/songwriter he had just signed to MCA, Steve Earle. Just a few months later in 1985, after moving his family back in Nashville, Harry played drums and sang on Steve Earle’s groundbreaking album Guitar Town. Harry joined Steve’s band, and spent two years performing as a Duke. Tony also enlisted Harry to play and sing on Lyle Lovett’s classic, Pontiac. Immediately he became an in-demand session player and singer, but continued to expand his career into songwriting and producing.
As a songwriter, Harry’s first appearance on the charts was the top five hit “Let It Be You,” recorded by Ricky Skaggs. He’s had works recorded by Faith Hill, and Wynonna Judd among others, and finally achieved his first number one hit with “Wild Angels,” recorded by Martina McBride. He also hit pay dirt producing a number one for Trisha Yearwood’s “XXX’s & OOO’s.” That event came about while Harry was musical director and composer for Brandon Tarticoff’s TV pilot of the same name. In addition to all that time in the studio, Harry was part of TNN’s American Music Shop house band and continued to serve as music director for many hours of network and cable music shows. During the 1990’s hardly an hour went by on the radio that didn’t have some sort of contribution by Harry Stinson.
In the mid-nineties, Harry helped found Nashville’s premier artist run independent label, Dead Reckoning Records with fellow artists Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, Tammy Rogers and Mike Henderson. He produced and performed on most of the first wave of recordings and also performed live with their “revue” known as The Dead Reckoners. Dead Reckoning was indeed one of the founding cornerstones of a brand new format soon to be known as Americana music.
In the late nineties and in early 2000, two events came about that continued to propel Harry. While performing with the Dead Reckoners at the Edmonton Folk Festival, Harry was introduced to Canadian singer songwriter Corb Lund and Corb’s handful of rootsy tunes. They spent two days in the studio, which began a successful four album run, along with countless Juno awards, and a CCMA award for best Country Album for Hair in my Eyes Like a Hyland Steer. Harry helped Corb and his band, The Hurtin Albertans become not only a Canadian sensation, but also a worldwide phenom.
The other event was a call from long time friend, Marty Stuart, who wanted to start a new band. Harry had contributed to some of Marty’s early hits like “Tempted,” and “Burn Me Down,” and together with guitar-slinger Kenny Vaughan and bass man Paul Martin the Fabulous Superlatives were formed. Besides touring and recording together, the Superlatives have been a four man powerhouse that is committed to preserving the art of traditional, hard hitting country music. The band hit the TV airwaves with The Marty Stuart Show, which has produced over 130 episodes showcasing the versatility of the band alongside artists such as Merle Haggard, Sheryl Crow, Connie Smith and Willie Nelson.
In November 2022, Harry was inducted as a member of the Fabulous Superlatives into the Musicians Hall of Fame. The induction class included Vince Gill, Billy Gibbons, Ray Stevens, George Massenburg, Don McLean and James Guercio.
Harry continues to perform with the Fabulous Superlatives as well as write, produce and record expanding his already lengthy discography.
“From the time I started in the early 70’s,” says Harry, “I have followed a creative spirit that has led me into all types of situations. I have always embraced challenge, and it has made be a better player, and ultimately a more rounded and successful musician.”