John Driskell Hopkins has walked the musical path for the last 20 years. As a bass player, guitar player, singer and songwriter for several bands of the rock variety, Hopkins rooted himself in the Atlanta, GA music scene in 1995, producing records and touring with his band Brighter Shade. Hopkins met Zac Brown in 1998 at an open mic hosted by Hopkins. Over the next several years, they remained friends and with Hopkins lending a production hand, they released the first Zac Brown record, Home Grown, in 2004.
Hopkins became a founding member of the Zac Brown Band in 2005 and has enjoyed engineering and songwriting credits on hit songs such as “Toes,” “It’s Not OK,” and “Sic Em On A Chicken,” from the triple-platinum selling record The Foundation, as well as “Nothing,” “I Play The Road,” and “Settle Me Down,” from the platinum selling record, You Get What You Give. Hopkins also co-wrote the second single from the Zac Brown Band’s third platinum album, Uncaged, entitled “Goodbye in Her Eyes” which was the group’s ninth Billboard number one single.
As the ZBB continue to garner critical and public success through numerous awards, including 3 Grammy Awards, Hopkins continues to share the spotlight on stage with his band of fellow songwriters and friends. He has added the title of multi-instrumentalist to his ZBB resume, playing Banjo on the single “Homegrown,’’ which became their 11th number one on Billboard Country charts in March, 2015, from their album Jekyll and Hyde. Hopkins is also a contributing writer on that album’s second single, “Heavy Is The Head” featuring Chris Cornell, which debuted at No. 37 on Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, marking their first appearance on that chart. The band played both singles as musical guest on Saturday Night Live on March 7, 2015.
Hopkins can be seen and heard in the 2015 internationally-released film Careful What You Wish For featuring Nick Jonas, Paul Sorvino, & Dermot Mulroney, produced by Elizabeth Allen. And in 2016, he provided original music for and appears in the upcoming film, Adolescence featuring Tommy Flanagan, directed by Ashley Avis.
When off the road, Hopkins works in his brand new Brighter Shade Studio, songwriting and producing a growing crop of regional talent; he often shares these tracks with BMG/Chrysalis Nashville, whom he’s partnered with in an administrative deal since 2011. He continues to perform at music festivals and venues across the country with his original 6-piece band that includes Greg Earnest on banjo and Leah Calvert on fiddle, and also collaborates with other musicians as often as possible.
In 2015, Hopkins was elected as an advisor to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Atlanta Chapter, and was subsequently voted in to a Governor Seat for the 2015-2017 term. In late summer, 2015, Hopkins fulfilled a dream when he collaborated with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra on a Christmas album, titled In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays, recording 12 tracks of timeless holiday tunes with soaring arrangements and wonderful special guests such as the Indigo Girls, Balsam Range, and actress/singer extraordinaire, Laura Bell Bundy. The album was released in November, 2015, and Hopkins now joins the APO for holiday shows around the southeast each holiday season, and in 2016, released In The Spirit as a double vinyl LP with bonus tracks.
In November 2017, John released his second holiday album, You Better Watch Out, a collaboration with the Joe Gransden Big Band, featuring special guests Aoife O’Donovan, Bela Fleck, and Clay Cook and Daniel de los Reyes of the Zac Brown Band. He’s spent December 2017 playing shows with both the APO and the Big Band, celebrating the holidays and his brief down time with the ZBB before they head out again late January, 2018.
You can catch 11 episodes of Hopkins’ ongoing podcast, Under The Influence with John Driskell Hopkins, on iTunes, most of which were recorded while on the road with other band-mates or fellow tour-mates. Another favorite activity during any touring downtime is taking his Harley out for a lap of the city du jour. He shares his life on and off the road with his amazing wife and three beautiful daughters.