b. Larry Paul McNeely, 3 January 1948, Lafayette, Indiana, USA. A talented multi-instrumentalist, from the beginning of his teenage years McNeely learned successively to play piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica. He did so with such skill that in his mid-teens he was playing professionally with the Pinnacle Mountain Boys and before he was 20 was resident in Nashville, Tennessee. There, while working for a noted local guitar manufacturer, he encountered Roy Acuff and became a member of his band. He continued to work with Acuff, playing guitar and most notably banjo, until the start of the 70s when he joined Glen Campbell in California. In 1971 McNeely made his own-name recording debut and three years later left Campbell to work for various leaders, sometimes on tour but most often in recording studios where he became a valued member of the session musician fraternity in Nashville and elsewhere. He generally worked in traditional country music bands but also played bluegrass, developing his banjo playing and becoming a virtuoso performer on the instrument. During the 70s he also made more albums of his own. From the mid-80s he was again resident in Nashville and soon returned to Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys where he remained until the leader’s death in 1992. From then, McNeely worked in various bands, including Russ And Becky Jeffers and Smoky Mountain Sunshine.
An acknowledged master of the banjo, McNeely’s guitar playing is also of a very high standard although his style on this instrument is much more eclectic. In addition to being influenced by earlier country music guitarists, McNeely has also declared an interest in the fleet, linear style of jazz master Django Reinhardt. McNeely also composes his own music, which displays his varied musical sources. Like many other session musicians, McNeely’s instrumental ability often surpasses that of the better-known artists he accompanies.