Brent Rowan has made his mark as a studio guitarist in Nashville for two decades, playing on recordings by such top artists as Alabama, George Strait, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shania Twain, Olivia Newton-John, Sting, Neil Diamond, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Chris LeDoux, and Brian Wilson, among others. His skill has earned him five nominations for Instrumentalist of the Year from the Country Music Association. He has also recorded a collection of his own compositions for acoustic guitar, titled Bare Essentials, and played on the soundtracks of more than a dozen films. He's come a long way from the young man who hit Nashville during the '70s, a church-raised youth who was unexposed to rock & roll and unfamiliar with movies.
During his youth, Rowan tinkered around with any musical instruments that were handy, including a harmonica and a piano. At ten years old, he received an acoustic guitar from his mother and father. He progressed to an electric guitar when he was 11. The Rowans settled in Colorado, where the guitarist drew inspiration from nature. During his teen years, he payed particular attention to his trumpet playing and gave serious thought to joining the Navy. A desire to head to Tennessee won out and once he arrived, Rowan played in a gospel group, the Kenny Parker Trio. He made very little money, barely enough to keep eating, and was always traveling. When he discovered the steady work offered to session musicians in a recording studio, he made the switch and settled down in Nashville. More lean times followed, with Rowan having to hustle for work, going so far as to pledge his services free of charge if he couldn't cut it. Rowan's big break came about thanks to Bud Logan, a producer who hired him to play on "Friday Night Blues" with John Conlee. Conlee was so satisfied that no other lead guitarist than Rowan recorded in session for him after that.