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About John Bohlinger

J Boh and a good friend

J Boh and a good friend

John Bohlinger is a Nashville musician working primarily in television.  Best know as the band leader for  NBC’s hit program “Nashville Star”,  John also leads the band on the several other television programs on USA, GAC, CMT and PBS Networks.   John originally moved to Nashville to pursue a song-writing career but soon found guitar playing a more stable means of feeding his family.   John became the consummate Nashville sideman;  he has accompanied over fifty major label artist throughout his tenure in Nashville including Bret Michaels of Poison, Sara Evans, Leann Rimes,  Hank Williams, Jr, Kenny Rogers, The Beach Boys,  Randy Owen of Alabama, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues and many others.  A versatile multi instrumentalist, John has recorded master sessions on electric and acoustic guitars, bass, pedal steel and mandolin.

Hundreds of John’s musical compositions have made it to television, primarily as background music in Nashville Star as well as advertisements,  major motion pictures and documentaries.   John’s songs have also been recorded by major and independent label artists world wide.


In 2001, John left the music business and worked toward a PhD in psychology.  Unable to completely leave the arts,  John began pitching a book idea entitled “A Guitar and A Pen” eventually enlisting his friend Robert Hicks as a partner.  The book of short stories by Nashville songwriters was eventually published by Center Street in 2008.

John writes a monthly column entitled “Last Call”  for Premier Guitar Magazine. “Last Call” is a somewhat comedic, instructional guide to earning a living as a musician.   Although working and aspiring musician comprise the main demographic,  music fans are drawn to his column as well.

John writes his Blog “Living with Losing your Child” in an attempt to help recover from the loss of his beloved son, August.



1. Gail Mendelman - September 26, 2009

Hello John,
I just finished reading your post from 09/09/09. I wanted to let you know that I read it, crying and nodding as so much of it rang true for me. Some aspects were different of course but the universal themes hit strong. Your ‘chronic bereavement’ comment was brilliant. I hope you don’t mind if I steal it. I lost my beautiful four year old son Mackenzie (Mack) in a drowning accident in July 2006. I just wanted to write and tell you how moved I was. You have done August proud and I hope that somewhere, he is smiling as is Mack. My beautiful daughter Ruby is a shining light in my life and my husband and I are able to see the beauty that life can still hold through her eyes.
If it even remotely interests you, you can check out our website and see what we have chosen to do to create a legacy for our son and allow children to be helped in his name.
Good luck and thank you,
Gail Mendelman

2. johnbohlinger - September 29, 2009

How great that you are channeling your energy into such a good cause. The Mack foundation will help kids who really need it. I was a dyslexic kid myself.. (hence the terrible spelling and whacked syntax at times). Had it not been for the help of my mother and a few key people in my life while growing up, I probably would be functionally illiterate today. Your foundation will make the world a better place.

Good for you.

3. Robert Lukacs - September 28, 2010

Hi John,

You have been on a journey that I have just begun. Last week we lost our 8 year old Daughter Lauren to an anurism. One minute we were in the post office returning a package and the next we were in the hospital going thru the process I would call hell. Emergency room, tests, helicopter flight to Phoenix Childrens, Surgery, then removing life support. This all occurred in a span of the weekend Sept 18th and 19th. Lauren was truely the light of our family. Now she is gone and I miss her so much. We had tons of family and friends give support last week but they are all gone now. My wife has a few more weeks off. I came back to work today but my mind is not here. I walk in a haze. I replay that day over and over, her last words to me as I rubbed her head because she said she had a headache. I go from being almost normal to crying in the blink of an eye. We set up a little memorial site online at

Sometimes I worry I will forget how she was and all her beautiful manerisms and just things she has done and said to me.

johnbohlinger - September 28, 2010

Hi Robert:

God bless you and your family. You’re going to be out of it for quite a while. Think about medication if it gets really bad, (perhaps something to help you sleep as well). None of this will ever make sense. Think about the good times you had with your sweet Lauren and be grateful for those.

Robert Lukacs - September 28, 2010

Its so hard, it just doesnt seem real. I cant believe she is really gone. I mean this was a healthy kid. To just leave us suddenly in the span of a weekend. She had something called an AVM. Its basically tangled arteries in the brain. We never saw any signs. It wasnt like she was sick for some time period. Its just unreal. I cant get it out of my head.

johnbohlinger - September 28, 2010

I understand. My son’s been gone three years now and it’s just now sinking in. I literally lost over a year in a dream-like haze. God bless you. I pray for you and your family.

4. Terri - November 2, 2010

Dear John: I lost my only son Ty July 5, 2010. I feel like my life is falling apart. I have avoided the phone, friends, and to get through a day at my job is extremely difficult. I am 42 and had to have a hysterectomy last year. This pain is overwhelming. I don’t know how I am going to make it through this. My son was 23. I was also on my way home. I was going to call him that morning but i figured i would wait so he could sleep in after the 4th of July. I was wrong, I should of called. I feel like I just wanna pack up, quit my job, and disappear. Just don’t know what to do anymore. So lonely. Terri

5. jones - March 29, 2011
6. Lisa Marie - September 8, 2011

Hello John,

I am coming up on what would be my son’s 21st birthday and it has been almost 6 years since he passed away. I was googling coping with the death and grief of your child… looking for anything that could help me over this next huge mountain, this living hell and the overwhelming pain that has come upon me once again, like an unexpected tidal wave…this will be his 6th birthday that has passed, that I have survived without him… the recent days have been very very dark, the pain as fresh as the moment he left this earth… I came across your stories and journals of August and your wording sooooo describes the words I can not get out on paper, but spin around like crashing waves in my mind, in my heart and in my soul….
Thank you for sharing your feelings,and thoughts and your beautiful son August, although it has been almost 6 years…I feel like I have fought like hell to move forward 10 steps to only slide back 100.

I too was a happy, positive, life is beautiful person, the “old me”, but now too, find myself doing the same as you described, gathering every ounce of my strength to get through whatever the next task may be, and looking forward to the time I can get away from the world…..

All I can say is ” there are no words” that can honestly describe how a parent feels that loses a child…. I see the world go on, and like August’s tattoo says…”life goes on”, but I honestly can’t seem to find the right route to get a life back on track, as hard as I try…

Thank you again for sharing……
I am truly sorry for your loss,

God Bless

Lisa Marie

7. Kassi - November 4, 2011

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I just lost my daughter Abigaille. Your description of your son, the depth of his feelings reminds me of my daughter. She was only 14. I love her.

johnbohlinger - November 4, 2011

God bless you and your family Kassi.

8. Jennifer de Wit - July 2, 2012

Dear Eileen,

I too, just lost my beautiful son, Graham, on May 22, 2012. Although it wasn’t suicide, it was accidental and sudden and traumatic. I, too, have been searching for websites and blogs to read to learn how other parents have survived.
I have been putting together a web page with all the sites I find helpful, so that I have a one-stop-reading place.
Perhaps you would find some comfort from some of the sites that I have been reading, too.


I am reading and seeking, but I am in stunning, never-ending pain right now.


9. Domingas - July 16, 2012

thanks for this post. you are doing a great job…keep it up.http://www.luftec.net

10. Lynn - July 17, 2012

Hi; I have just found this site and have not had a chance to read all of the posts yet but I have read enough to know that I have found the right place. On Thursday June 21st, 2012 I got the worst news a mother could ever hear. My 23 year old son was dead. Just writing this is making me break down. I still do not even have a coroners report so I am unsure of the cause of death yet. I have 3 other children but only one still at home who will be 14 next week. They are devastated but have many friends and I think that helps them. I have no one and I am so lost. I am not one to share my feelings and used to love being alone until now. I am now terrified of being alone with my thoughts yet do not want to be with anyone because no one could possibly understand how I am feeling. I don’t even know how I am feeling. I do not know how I am functioning on the outside but dying on the inside. I do not want to talk to councilors who only know about the stages of grief but have no idea how I am really feeling. I have never done anything like that and don’t want to now. I live in a remote area so there are no groups that I know of and not sure that would help either.
My son Shawn was the most amazing son anyone could ever imagine and I do not know how to go on without him. I find it hard to be motivated to do the things I used to love. I find right now that I miss Shawn more each day that passes as it is one more day without a hug from him or one more day that I did not hear his voice. What do I do? I honestly do not know what to do and I am just trying to keep my mind from thinking about him which is impossible.
I am so very lost and the physical pain is almost unbearable. It does not seem real to me.

11. johnbohlinger - July 17, 2012

God bless you.

12. Lynn - July 20, 2012

Thank you Eileen. I think this site will be the thing I was looking for where people who can relate are. I am so very sorry for your loss also. For me, keeping really busy has been my saviour. It gives me less time to think. Right now, I believe that it will get worse not better as each day makes it more of a reality. I keep expecting him to walk through my door or text me or call and say his usual “What’s up?” God, what I wouldn’t give to hear those words from him today.
It is such a waste of a beautiful life. What I hang on to most is that I am sure he knew how much I loved him. I pray I am right in that. He was my world. I was so proud of him and this is just unbearable at times right now.
Eileen: My email is vertex@vianet.ca if you want also.
PS Thanks for your kind post 🙂

Dorothy Balbier - July 26, 2012

Morning Lynn,

I too lost a Shawn, he was 29, my oldest of 3 and my heart. Its been 3 years now, June 14th 2009 sunday morning I found him dead on our couch. He left behind a wonderful little boy so that does help but in a way is bitter sweet as we love our grandson soooo much but when we look at him the pain of Shawn not being able to be there for him is sooo tough. My Shawn’s birthday is August 29th so I guess that’s why I have been feeling these thoughts all over again. Grief has such a life of it’s own you just never know when or how it will overtake you. I know people always say God has gotten me through but, now having had to go through something this devastating I know that to be very true, He’s been there every minute right along with the pain He is what has gotten me through believing there is a purpose for everything and He has a plan, we may like or understand it sometimes but if you just let go and have faith He’s got your back you’ll be OK. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

13. Lynn - July 30, 2012

I am sorry for your loss Dorothy. That must have been horrible for you to find him like that. I would imagine his birthday would bring all sorts of feelings to the surface. Stay strong. Lynn

14. aaronsmum - January 29, 2014

Your page is so meaningful to those who have lost a child. You’re right in that no one gets the pain suffered by those of us who belong to this terrible terrible club, the membership of which is not our choice and which we would willingly give up in a heartbeat if we could. Your story of your life with your son August is a truly wonderful one and it’s end is so tragic. Life has a habit of dragging us forward when we simply want to stay in the past, close to those we have loved and lost. I never knew the meaning of the phrase “time stands still” until the day that it actually stopped.
I hope you continue to write about August, if only because your words about him reach deep into the soul of every bereaved parent and give them a sense that they are not alone.

johnbohlinger - January 29, 2014

Thank you Sue for your kind words. God bless you.

15. Francisca - October 8, 2014

You know, a lot of the comments here are from parents who have also lost a child and who can relate. I am a student who has had suicidal thoughts and reading your blog makes me realize things from a parents point of view. August seems like a cool kid and your blog is amazing. Good luck and thank you, John.

johnbohlinger - October 8, 2014

Fancisca, if you are depressed, seek help. Seriously, depression could be linked to a chemical imbalance. Talk to a shrink, but also talk to your parents, friends, find a support group. Life is beautiful Francisca. Amazing experiences await you. God bless you

16. Andrei - June 29, 2016

Hey John. Hope all is well, I always thought you are such a happy down to earth guy when watching your premier guitar videos. I googled you and found about about this blog, really sorry to learn about your loss! Ill keep you in my prayers! You have such a happy spirit man! 😀
Greetings South Africa 😀
I pray that Jesus will bless you! All the best John, God bless you man!

johnbohlinger - June 29, 2016

Hi Andrei: Thank you for the kind words. You are right, I am a happy person. I lost about 3 or 4 years to depression but for the most part, I’m past it now and grateful. I feel very blessed with a wonderful life. I hope everything is beautiful in your world.
South Africa, particularly CapeTown, is one of the most amazing places on earth. I love it there and hope to return.
All the best


Andrei - June 29, 2016

Hi John many thanks for the reply 😀
Im very glad that you conquered your depression man!
Thanks man, my world is not bad hey, we have so much to be grateful for!
Indeed Cape Town is not too bad 🙂 I stay Cape Town.
If I look at the world today then Cape Town might not be the worst place to be!
Good place to maybe retire one day if you ever will 🙂

All the best!

Kind regards


17. Brad Kosowan - November 20, 2016

John, it was a pleasure meeting you at Sam Ash in Indy IN. it was great meeting musician that’s friendly and “down to earth” and very upbeat.
I haven’t had the tragedy of losing a child, or direct family, but it’s great that you aren’t wallowing in depression.
I understand depression having trouble with manic depression most of my life, fortunately they found a med. that brought that under control so I can enjoy life finally.
Best of luck in what you put your mind to doing and keep the infectious good attitude !
obtw Where can I get a Zig Zag Supro : )

johnbohlinger - November 20, 2016

Thank you Brad. It was such a pleasure to meet you and the Sam Ash crew. What wonderful people.
So glad you found a way to deal with depression. Music really helps, right?
All the best to you my friend. If you see that I’ll be on tour near you..(I tour with an artist named Lee Brice). hit me up. We will hang, jam.

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