Richie Owens can’t help who he is! The man was born into a family whose lineage has pre-determined the path of his life. How far do you want to go back? Let’s start with the American Civil War and the true story of the historic novel and film, Cold Mountain. The fiddle player portrayed and killed in Cold Mountain is George Grooms. George was shot with his brother Henry by Captain Teague’s Raiders after playing “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Henry Grooms happens to be the Great–Great-Great Grandfather of Richie Owens! After the American Civil War, Richie’s family moved from North Carolina into the Sevier and Cocke County area of Tennessee. The lives of this Tennessee family are just as colorful with occupations ranging from moonshining, share cropping, and preaching the Gospel, all-the-while playing and writing classic Smoky Mountains music.
Richie’s family tree is filled with musicians, singers, and songwriters. He was born the son of Louis and Colleen Owens, half raised in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, and his father, Louis Owens, was a musician, publisher, songwriter, producer, and manager who helped guide the early career of Richie’s first cousin, Dolly Parton. Richie’s grandfather, Reverend Jake Owens, was also a musician, preacher, country music songwriter, and the inspiration for Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner’s hit song, “Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man.” As a child, one of Richie’s early experiences was singing and playing on the radio at the age of 8. Another early experience was playing on The Ralph Emery Morning Show in Nashville, and as a teen backing Joe and Rose Lee Maphis and Leon Russell. But beyond his musical heritage, Owens came of age during the 1960s and ’70s, absorbing the “pow” of the British Invasion, the swirl of psychedelic folk-rock, the glitter and Marshall stacks of glam and classic rock, the attitude and craftsmanship of punk and new wave, and the bedrock country that was still in its golden era during those years. Radical exposure to a melting pot of musical expansion gave the singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist a huge musical vocabulary that has reflected in his free-ranging career since the beginning.
As a young man, Richie would go on to work at the Shobud guitar shop on lower Broadway where he began to learn the art of guitar building and luthiership. The owner, Shot Jackson, was a friend of the Owens Family, and it was then that the guitar building and design bug took hold as Richie went on to work for Dobro. Richie has built Resonator guitars for Ron Wood, Sonny Landreth, and Jerry Douglas, and later built his own “Owens Guitars” for folks like Niles Lofgen (Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young) and Bob Weir (Grateful Dead). Washburn Guitars were so impressed with Richie’s work that they created his own signature model mandolin and signature resonator guitar.
Richie’s talent doesn’t stop there. A fifth generation Smoky Mountains musician, Owens has produced several of Dolly Parton’s hit records, the Kentucky Headhunters' album 'Dixie Lullabies', and engineered the Georgia Satellites' platinum debut American record, to name a few. Richie has also engineered for Jason and The Scorchers, Vince Gill, Michael Stipe (REM), Social Distortion, and The Bangles, and holds multiple gold and platinum records from his work as a songwriter, producer, and engineer. Richie has been a member of Dolly Parton’s touring band since 1997, and Dolly has always been a fan and supporter of him and his music. As he continues to create and pay homage to his fore fathers' heritage, he and his band, Richie Owens and the Farm Bureau, are preparing to release their next studio album come the Spring of 2022.