John Sturgill Simpson (born June 8, 1978) is an American country music and roots rock singer-songwriter.
Simpson was born in Jackson, Breathitt County, Kentucky, the only child of a secretary and a state policeman who formerly worked undercover narcotics. Due to his father's work, Simpson's family moved to Versailles, outside Lexington, where Simpson graduated from Woodford County High School. Simpson's mother's family were coal miners. Simpson is the first male on his mother's side of the family to not work in a strip mine or deep mine. After three years in the United States Navy, Simpson spent time in Japan, then lived in Everett, Washington, and then moved back home to Lexington, Kentucky.
As of August 2017, he has released three albums as a solo artist. He released two albums independently, High Top Mountain in 2013 and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music in 2014. His second album is notable for being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, being listed 18th on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2014," and also being named among "NPR's 50 Favorite Albums of 2014." His third studio album, A Sailor's Guide to Earth, was released on Atlantic Records and was Simpson's first major-label release, later earning him Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy Awards while also being nominated for Album of the Year.
Simpson is often compared to Waylon Jennings and the Outlaw Country genre of country music. Shooter Jennings says, "Sturgill isn't imitating at all, and he sounds like my favorite era of my dad, the Seventies, when he would sing quieter and more conversational. That's what struck me about Sturgill from Day One. And still does." Simpson himself counts Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Keith Whitley, and Marty Robbins as much bigger influences on his sound than Waylon Jennings. Simpson has also stated he tries to base his career around that of Dwight Yoakam. Indeed, Country Music Television noted that Simpson had "a voice that recalls Merle Haggard guitar licks that bring Buck Owens to mind." His overall sound was described by Indiewire as "a mesmerizing and sometimes bewildering mix of traditional country sounds, contemporary philosophy, and psychedelic recording-studio wizardry.