A UPS driver… a world-class bluegrass mandolin, guitar and violin player.
During the day, Johnny Staats is a UPS driver.
At all other times, he is a world-class bluegrass mandolin, guitar, and violin player. He has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, in People Magazine, on the CBS Evening News, and CNN, and has appeared on stage at the Grand Ole Opry five times.
He won Charleston’s Vandalia Gathering Mandolin Championships in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In 1997, he also won the guitar title and placed third in the fiddle competition.
Johnny joined his first band, Bluegrass Heritage, at the age of nine.
His most recent album, Time Moves On, with his band the Delivery Boys, features contemporary bluegrass combined with country and blues influences.
He was born and raised in West Virginia and currently resides in Sandyville, West Virginia.
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Q&A with Johnny Staats
1. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I always dreamed of being a musician when I grew up. I was around music and instruments all the time, and that is all I ever wanted to do.
2. What was your first job?
I got my first job at McDonald’s, working as a cook, when I was 17 years old.
3. Where do you get your best thinking done?
I do some of my best thinking while I am on my country route on the UPS truck. I have a good bit of seat time, so I spend most of that time thinking of new songs, lyrics, and things that may be going on that day.
4. What book are you reading right now?
I am currently reading a biography on J S Bach. I enjoy learning about how the greatest musicians in the world learned to play music, how they lived, what they accomplished, etc.
5. Living or dead, who would you invite to dinner?
I would like to have J S Bach or Mozart for dinner so I could talk “music” with them. It would have been an honor to have met such great musicians.
6. What cause are you most passionate about?
I have a passion for playing music for benefits, especially cancer. My father died from cancer, and it makes me feel good to know that I am helping someone who is sick and the feeling that it gives the family is very rewarding.
7. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
I believe the best career advice I have ever received was that “hard work pays off”. I have learned this to be true with my music career as well and my career with UPS.
8. Proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is when I was asked to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage. My whole life, I would watch my favorite artists play music on that stage, and it was a great honor to be on that stage playing music.
“ I do some of my best thinking while I am on my country route on the UPS truck.”
I would go to Germany. I have always wanted to go to Germany. I have always wanted to visit Austria and Salsburg to see where Mozart was born and see where he grew up and performed.
10. What’s something you see happening 10 years from now?
In ten years I am looking forward to retirement and traveling. I have always liked to travel and visit historical places.
11. What is the best gift you have ever received?
The best gift I have ever received was my first mandolin from my dad. It was an Alvarez mandolin, and I played that mandolin all the time. I couldn’t put it down.
12. Who would play you in a movie of your life?
I would have to say I think Tom Cruise could play a pretty good Johnny Staats in a movie of my life.
13. Favorite activity after work
It would be playing music and spending time with my family. Time is precious, and I enjoy coming home and playing my instruments, or writing down a song that has been in my head throughout the day, and sitting down to dinner with my family.
More about Johnny
Video: Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys, Escape from Taiwan
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Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.