John Driskell Hopkins – Bio

The musical career of John Driskell Hopkins spans more than 20 years. As a member of several rock bands, Hopkins first rooted himself in the Atlanta music scene in 1995 — but he is most well-known as a founding member, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter of the GRAMMY Award-winning Zac Brown Band.

Hopkins became a founding member of the Zac Brown Band (ZBB) in 2005 as a bass player and has enjoyed engineering and songwriting credits on hit songs including “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 No. 1  single. Hopkins met Zac Brown while hosting an open mic night at the Atlanta. Over the next several years, they remained friends and with Hopkins lending a production hand, they released the first Zac Brown album, Home Grown, in 2004. 

As ZBB continues to garner critical and public success through numerous awards — including three 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 No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts in March 2015, from the 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 guests on “Saturday Night Live” on March 7, 2015.

In 2019, the film “Adolescence” was released, directed by Ashley Avi. Hopkins plays the role of guitarist/sing “Spider,” alongside Tommy Flannagan (“Sons of Anarchy”) as a member of The Bloody Wolves of Venice — a rock band created for the film which plays original music created and sung by Hopkins. A hard rock EP of this music was released in January 2019.  Hopkins can also be seen and heard in the 2015 internationally-released film “Careful What You Wish For,” featuring Nick Jonas, Paul Sorvin and Dermot Mulroney, produced by Elizabeth Allen. Having always been heavily involved in theatre throughout high school, he graduated from Florida State University with a degree in General Theatre.  

In 2015, Hopkins was elected as an advisor to the Recording Academy, Atlanta Chapter, and was subsequently voted in to a Governor Seat for two consecutive terms from 2015-2019. In 2019, he  became a National Trustee for The Recording Academy and will hold that office until 2021.

In late summer, 2015, Hopkins fulfilled a dream when he collaborated with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra on a Christmas album entitled, In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays. Featuring 12 tracks of timeless holiday tunes, the album features 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 a vinyl edition was released in 2016.

In 2017, Hopkins released his second holiday album, You Better Watch Out, a collaboration with The Joe Gransden Big Band featuring special guests including: Aoife O’Donovan, Bela Fleck, and Clay Cook and Daniel de los Reyes (of the Zac Brown Band). His third holiday album, entitled Our Finest Gifts, will be released in November 2019 — this time he collaborated with ATL Collective, and it features special guests such as: Trombone Shorty, Ruby Velle, Dionne Farris, David Ryan Harris, Jason Eskridge and Maureen Murphy. 

When he’s not touring, Hopkins works out of his Brighter Shade Studios songwriting and producing a growing crop of talent. Hop continues to perform at music festivals and venues across the country with his original six-piece band, The John Driskell Hopkins Band, which includes: Mike Rizzi on drums/vocals; Sean McIntyre on bass/vocals; Leah Calvert on fiddle/vocals; Greg Earnest on banjo; and Brian Bisky on keyboard/vocals. There are 11 episodes available of Hopkins’ ongoing Podcast, “Under The Influence with John Driskell Hopkins” on iTunes — most of which were recorded while on the road with other bandmates or fellow tourmates. Another favorite activity is taking his Harley out for a lap of the city du jour. 

Hopkins shares his life, on and off the road, with his amazing wife and three beautiful daughters.

Hop’s Playlist

A few of my favorites.

  1. Tomorrow Brighter Shade 4:30
  2. I Will Lay Me Down feat. Zac Brown John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range 3:39


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What are your travel must-haves?

I always travel with my Leatherman, if it’s not on my person it’s in my suitcase. It’s a multi-tool: a knife and a pliers, and a bottle opener. I use it all the time.

And then, I always have some Gaffer tape, and my banjo picks. They’re in a little case, and I keep them in my pocket at all times. You never know when you’re going to be attacked by a banjo. You have to be ready!  … I’ve got picks that I’m really fond of, so I always like to have them on me.

I also always travel with my own computer mouse. It’s a Logitech Marble. I can’t work on Pro Tools without it. If I have work to do that’s remote, I won’t hesitate to take it out.

Excerpt from  “Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins Talks Life on the Road” by Caroline Hallemann (find her on Twitter / on Instagram)

A Collection of John’s Favorites

  1. Tomorrow Brighter Shade 4:30
  2. I Will Lay Me Down feat. Zac Brown John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range 3:39


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The Holiday Album

In 2015, after much time, thought, energy and love… John Driskell Hopkins of Zac Brown Band brought his signature baritone voice to Christmas favorites in both a new and timeless setting with the help of Atlanta Pops Orchestra and some very special guests.  In 2016, they added new bonus tracks on a double Vinyl release for the nostalgia lover in all of us.

The Atlanta Pops Orchestra concluded their 70th Anniversary season with the release of this record, the first full length album recorded by the orchestra in over 30 years, and features brand new arrangements by Wes Funderburk of Christmas classics, including  “Blue Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.”

Tap into a beautiful and nostalgic world, complete with soaring arrangements, expansive harmonies, and even humor! Iconic friends Indigo Girls help to light up the classic “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” bluegrass trailblazers Balsam Range bring the Appalachian mountains into view on “What Child Is This?,” and Laura Bell Bundy and JDH take “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for a new spin.

Track Listing:

  • Away In A Manger
  • Do You Hear What I Hear? feat. Indigo Girls
  • O Holy Night
  • What Child Is This? feat. Balsam Range
  • Silver Bells
  • Blue Christmas
  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside feat. Laura Bell Bundy
  • The Christmas Song
  • You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch / Welcome Christmas
  • Christmas Time Is Here
  • Silent Night
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Produced & Engineered By: John Driskell Hopkins
Executive Producers: John Driskell Hopkins & Kevin Leahy
Executive Assistant: Nicole Jurovics

All songs arranged by Wes Funderburk, except “What Child is This?” (arranged by John Driskell Hopkins, Balsam Range and Wes Funderburk)
Atlanta Pops Orchestra recorded at 800 East Studios, Atlanta, GA, August 3 & 4, 2015
Engineered by Martin Kearns, assistant engineer Spencer Willis
Laura Bell Bundy recorded at Outloud Audio, Los Angeles, CA, August 11, 2015
Engineered by Stiv Schneider
Indigo Girls recorded at Silent Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA, August 12, 2015
Engineered by Thom “TK” Kidd, assistant engineer Kory Aaron
Balsam Range recorded at Crossroads Recording Studios, Arden, NC, July 22, 2015
Engineered by Van Atkins, vocals engineered by Buddy Melton
Mixed By: Thom “TK” Kidd at Silent Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA, September 2015,
Assistant engineer Courtney Horton
Mastered By: John Horesco IV at One Up Mastering, Atlanta, GA, October 2015
Indigo Girls appear courtesy of IG Recordings (Distributed by Vanguard Records,
a Division of Concord Music Group)
Balsam Range appears courtesy of Mountain Home Music Company
Album Illustration by Leighanne Schneider
Licensing by Harry Fox & Kobalt Music Group
Liner notes by Dr. Lyn Schenbeck

In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays
Copyright 2015 Brighter Shade, LLC

Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins on Unusual Inspirations

Zac Brown Band will play the first show at Coors Field on Friday night.

“I ran [the open mike] on Tuesdays for probably two or three years,” says former ZBB bass player and current multi-instrumentalist and singer John Driskell Hopkins. “My main gig at that time was in the studio. For me, it was a great opportunity to find new talent in need of recordings. I would often offer a free song to the winner of the open mike. Sometimes those winners would record with me, or they would go on to other things. But it was a great way to meet a lot of the new writers in the Atlanta area.”


[homegrown] was the most-added song at country radio last week. Do you worry before releasing new work that it won’t work this time, and does that give you any kind of relief when it does work?

Well, you’re always excited to hear that people are enjoying it, and we’ve had lots of songs that I thought were really fantastic that have done really well, and some that have done pretty well, and some that we were surprised … that didn’t do as well as they should have, in our opinion. You kinda have to be ready for anything to happen, but what I will say about that is, we’re prepared to go the distance with what we believe to be the best that we can provide to our fans and to the world, whether it charts really well or not. We’re just hoping to continue to really provide the best quality that we can.

Excerpt from: Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins Talks New Single, Upcoming Album + Pre-Super Bowl Gig By Sterling Whitaker

Uncaged wins you the Grammy for Best Country Album. What kind of reaction do you have to that?

Well, it’s funny, ‘cause that was kind of the least country album we’d made to date, you know?

[Laughs] But it goes back to that whole genre thing. The genre seems to be changing, and a lot of it’s the more popular bands in quote-unquote ‘country’ are writing pop songs and are writing rock songs and things like that. Our most country tune on the record is arguably ‘The Wind,’ and it has done the least amount at radio as a single. [Laughs] It was kind of like it was too country for country.

Excerpt from Lehigh Valley Music Interviewing Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins: Group wants to keep it real, reach everyone