After a day of demanding music classes at Berklee College, Peter Huttlinger would grab a friend, rush to the Harvard Square subway station and spend the afternoon there playing music for tips. The two always came back with their pockets filled. For Huttlinger, this routine symbolized what has become his abiding outlook toward music: Perfect your art, but play to the crowd.
Since his days of subway busking, Huttlinger has developed into a world-renowned guitarist. Even as a must-have sideman, he occupied some pretty choice real estate, including the Hollywood Bowl and London’s Royal Albert Hall with John Denver, Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and stadiums around the world with numerous other pop and country superstars.
He has been a featured artist with the San Diego and Houston symphonies and is a favorite guest artist of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. In 2000 Huttlinger won the title of National Fingerstyle Champion at the prestigious Walnut Valley Festival.
Born in Washington, D.C., Huttlinger descended from two lines of prominent journalists. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Fred Walker, was an editor of the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, reporting directly to its owner and publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Huttlinger’s father, Joseph, was a White House correspondent and a publisher of his own newsletter on the oil industry. "My dad took my mom to the White House on their first date," Huttlinger says, "and while they were walking around, President Truman came out and said, ‘Hi, Joe.’ That got Mom’s attention.”
By the age of 12, Huttlinger had begun music lessons and by 14 he had settled on the guitar. Soon after he graduated from high school, a relative left him a small inheritance. He decided to use this windfall to study at Berklee College of Music, the Boston-based academic home of such musical luminaries as Quincy Jones, Kevin Eubanks, Melissa Ethridge, Brandford Marsalis, Bruce Cockburn and Paula Cole. It was there that Huttlinger found he had a knack for music theory and harmony. "All that made sense to me," he says.
Huttlinger graduated cum laude from Berklee in 1984 and moved to Nashville. During the eighteen years since that move, Huttlinger has established himself as a top-notch session player, composer, arranger, bandleader, songwriter and sideman.
During the early ‘90’s, John Denver’s tour manager and producer Kris O’Connor heard Huttlinger on another project and was so impressed that he recommended him for Denver’s band. Huttlinger toured, recorded and performed on television with Denver from 1994 until the singer’s death in 1997.
He has created two series of instructional DVDs that have become Homespun Tapes top sellers. One series is his much in demand Learn To Play The Songs of John Denver (Vol. I, II & III). The other series includes instructionals of his own arrangements and practice techniques.
Huttlinger lives in Nashville and plays everywhere.