TED@UPS: A Tribute to Keeping Your Day Job

People ask why I don’t retire as a driver and play music fulltime. The reason is that I would miss my customers too much.


I started playing the mandolin at a young age – no more than 8 or 9.

As I was starting out, I went through phases when I admired various artists. The first was Bill Monroe. I bought every album and listened to every song of his I could find. As I got older I explored different types of music, listening to Sam Bush and the New Grass Revival.

I wanted to create my own style, but to do that, I looked for inspiration. My friend Robert Shafer played the guitar in a way that I loved. So I picked up a guitar and said, “I’m going to learn how to play like that too.” Fortunately, like many people who grow up in West Virginia, I could play almost any instrument I put in my hands.

At the age of 9, I joined my first band – “Bluegrass Heritage.” By 13, I was entering and winning my share of competitions. My first album, “Wires & Wood,” included the talents of several other artists, including Sam Bush himself. As a result, I was signed to a major label.

My proudest accomplishment was when I was asked to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. I had watched my heroes on that stage my whole life. It was such an honor to join the list of country music legends who have performed there.

Since then, I’ve continued to record and play concerts with my back-up men. I named the group “The Delivery Boys” in honor of the company I work for – UPS – and the 28 years I have served as a UPS driver.

People ask why I don’t retire as a driver and play music fulltime. The reason is that I would miss my customers too much. The good people of Grantsville, West Virginia, where I run my daily route, have been my biggest fans and most loyal supporters all these years.

When I took the stage for my TED@UPS performance, I was playing for them. You’re invited to listen in. goldbrown2

Click here to learn more about Johnny.


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Johnny Staats is a UPS driver and a world-class bluegrass mandolin player.

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