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Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame

John Lawlor                 2016

John Lawlor played banjo with the Philadelphia Mummers when he was only 12.  He switched to the four string tenor guitar for a prettier sound.  He was a member of the Chris Sooy Swing Band in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which was chosen best band in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Inquirer.  As a member of the Showboat Casino Band, they were chosen best Dixieland band in the tri-state area by Philadelphia Magazine.  John is a musician’s musician, whose innovative arrangements of jazz and swing, and beautiful chord melodies got him inducted into the Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame in 2016.


“When I think of John Lawlor and listen to his music, words like contradiction, anomaly, enigma, puzzle, mystery, paradox…and brilliance come to mind.

He deceptively defies the laws of physics, making the relatively unknown four string ‘tenor’ guitar sound, like the much more common six string version.  His touch, tone, time and taste, defy a once held opinion that tenor guitars had a niche in early jazz, cowboy songs, and Texas fiddle traditions as primarily a rhythm instrument.  To the contrary, John’s repertoire for solo tenor guitar, clearly and confidently establishes him as a musician’s musician whose music has beautifully broad appeal to many fans of vernacular instrumental music.

John’s choice of a modified six string guitar with only four strings and tuned in fifths like the violin family has demonstrated once again (similarly what has happened with sophisticated examples in the ukulele renaissance), that it is not the car, it’s the driver.”   Joe Craven, Director of River Tunes Music Camp, former member of the Dave Grisman Quintet


“John Lawlor is the greatest jazz tenor guitar virtuoso past or present.  He creates difficult movements on four strings that only a rare genius could hear….He has the mind of a great composer and the rhythm, heart and soul of a great musician.”  Mark Josephs, Tenor Guitar Foundation founder

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