Guitar Instrumentals, Guitar CDs and Videos by John Crago
From his earliest childhood memories, the only thing John Crago wanted to do, was be a guitar player. Most afternoons his father would listen to a Country & Western radio show and in the 40s and 50s, most Aussie country artists would record with just one or two acoustic guitars for backing and this made it easy for John to hear the notes being played.
He still remembers, as a small toddler, standing by the family’s large, floor-standing valve radio, with his tiny hands pressed against the wood so he could feel the notes, as well as listen to them. John says, “I still remember the name of that radio show, it was called The Sunset Trail, and featured the old pioneers of country music, such as Tex Morton, Buddy Williams, Slim Dusty and American singers like, Hank Snow, Wilf Carter and many others”.
With much pestering, annoying and begging to parents, he finally wore them down until one morning an excited 9 year old discovered a guitar under the Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, living in the bush, way out of town meant guitar teachers were simply not-to-be-had. Not that it made any difference to John, he simply started copying the runs and licks he heard on the radio. Even to the point of learning Arthur Smith’s Guitar Boogie via a 78rpm record on a wind-up gramophone. According to John, “This was really good, because I could let the spring run out of energy and slow down the song. This made it easier to hear individual notes”.
Fortunately, at the age of 14, his parents moved to Adelaide, where he discovered an incredible teacher, Nick Packard, who would ultimately teach him all the skills needed to become a professional player. Within a very short time John was snapped up by an Adelaide band and music became his sole focus and main profession.
From the late 50s and throughout the 60s, guitar groups like The Shadows, The Ventures, Duane Eddy, The Atlantics and a plethora of other instrumentalists made it to the top of the music charts. These songs form a major part of the Great Guitar Hits show played by John today.
After a 30+ year career in music, John took a short break. But… not for long! In 2014 he and wife Maggie set off to see Australia by caravan. As an afterthought, John packed his acoustic guitar and bluegrass banjo, but without any thought of entertaining people. While passing through Brisbane, he got an invitation to a band reunion with his old band buddies, Terry Waddington and Murray Watt. As this would be a Rock n’ Roll session, Terry loaned him an electric guitar. When it came time to head northward from Brisbane, Terry said, “Hey, why not take this old Hondo Les Paul copy with you, I’ve got heaps of guitars and I don’t use this one any more”. At the same time, he said, “Why don’t you revive some of those old instrumentals we used to play.”
So, with Maggie’s encouragement, John began ‘dusting off’ the old hits of yesteryear and used a weekly gig at the King Reef Hotel at Kurrimine Beach, Qld to gauge the audience response. Over a couple of months the Great Guitar Hits repertoire began to take shape, eventually evolving into the polished performance you see today.
Following the King Reef Hotel gig, and at Maggie’s urging, John performed at the Mission Beach Markets as a solo busker. John recalls, “I was rather nervous, mainly wondering,… will they like these old songs?… will I make any money? etc. etc.” He needn’t have worried, as Maggie says, “It was only a very small market and not many people, but he had $47.50 in his guitar case, and the stall holders insisted on giving us a wheelbarrow load of fruit and vegetables, because they said…. “He’s the best busker we’ve ever had, we want him back next month!”
Fast forward four years, and John has now played his way round Australia performing at community markets, pubs, clubs, country shows and gala events. While John performs the songs, Maggie takes care of bookings, marketing & promotion, video production and manages all aspects of John’s recording and CD sales. As he says, “I wouldn’t even be doing this if it wasn’t for her. All I have to do is play the guitar, she looks after everything else!”
For the remainder of 2018 John will be performing in Melbourne, Adelaide and throughout country Victoria and South Australia.
YouTube Video Clips
Maggie (acoustic guitar)
Apache (electric guitar)
Sugarfoot Rag (electric guitar)
Wipeout – Husky Carnival (electric guitar)
Tennessee Waltz (acoustic & electric)
Wildwood Flower (acoustic guitar)