Chris Warner Biography

     Chris was born in 1946 to and grew up in Red Lion , PA. and has three daughters, Heather, Sarah, and Jennifer and three granddaughters Taylor, Riley, and Bailey.  In 1982 , he married Sandra Jean Simmons , who is the love of  his life, and who supports him in everything he chooses to do. 

Chris & Sandy at the IBMA in Nashville, TN

    Chris became hooked on bluegrass when, in 1962, he heard Dick Laird and Ray King play guitar and banjo in a high school assembly program.  He then pursued Ray, Bill Runkle and Larry Smith, another local picker, to teach him to play the banjo.  He loved all bluegrass back then, but his favorites were Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, and the Stanley Brothers, as was the case with most bluegrass fans and musicians.  Warner spent 4 to 5 hours a day practicing and would pick with anyone, anywhere, anytime to the chagrin of his wife at the time.  Chris spent many Sundays at Sunset Park in West Grove, PA, where he heard the best bluegrass bands and jammed with many musicians which was a tremendous learning opportunity.  The first band he worked in was Clyde Fogle’s band which was the house band at Valley View Park, York, Pa. This gave him the opportunity to back up many country artists who came there to perform including Jean Shepherd, Marvin Rainwater, and others.  Chris also traveled to Baltimore where he played for groups such as Delmer Delaney and the Windy Mountain Boys (which included another Jimmy Martin alumni Bill Torbert),  Frankie Short and Kimbell Blair, Jack Cook, and others. 

    After playing with a number of smaller local groups, he was able to play for a while with

Del McCoury and the Shady Valley Boys which was a great learning experience.

While attending the 1966 Fincastle Bluegrass Festival, he was standing back on the hill with his good friend Clifford Baer, listening to Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers singing “I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling”.  As chills ran up his back, he told Cliff if it is any way possible, he was going to someday play professionally.  One year later, he was fortunate enough to get the job with his idol Jimmy Martin. During 1968 and 1969, Chris recorded a total of nine cuts with Jimmy including “Freeborn Man” and “Milwaukee Here I Come” .   Later in 1978, Chris Warner recorded four cuts on Jimmy Martin’s “Greatest Bluegrass Hits”.   After leaving Jimmy in October 1969, he had his own regional band and filled in with such bands as Bob Paisley, Seldom Scene, Hot Mudd Family, Bill Harrell, Jim and Jesse, and others. 

part two.....