Billy Strings has quickly become one of the most well-known names in all of bluegrass music in only three short years when he began to become a household name in 2019, with his unique and innovative sound mixed in with his traditional bluegrass roots and out of this world pickin’ skills.
He’s transformed the genre in a way that it’s appealing to listeners across all genres of music, and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Needless to say, Strings has come a long way in a short period of time, escaping a past life that was filled with poverty and drugs in his home town of Muir, Michigan, a tiny village with a population of only 600 people.
He weighed in on his past in a new, powerful interview with Rolling Stone.
He said it all hit him after playing a sold out show at the Ryman Auditorium:
“I’m not running towards success; I’m running away from poverty. I’m running away from being a poor meth head, from living in a squalor, having no food in the fridge, having no hot water, from taking a shower in a moldy shower and drying off with a towel that smells like mildew.
From wearing dirty clothes at school and being embarrassed to take your shoes off at your friend’s house because you’re wearing the same socks you’ve been wearing for days and your feet stink. That’s why I cried last night.”
Strings lost his biological father to a drug overdose when he was only two-years-old. His mom, Debra, remarried, and was raised by bluegrass-picker Terry Barber, who he considers his dad.
However, as Strings became a teenager, both his parents became addicted to meth and he moved out of his family’s trailer when he was only 13.
Times have changed for the better, however as Billy’s parents have since gotten clean, and Strings himself stopped drinking alcohol six years ago. He’s more of a weed aficionado these days.
He’s playing on the Grammys, winning Grammys, selling out venues, packing Red Rocks and putting out critically-acclaimed albums backed by a phenomenal band.
He’s even garnered the attention of Post Malone and Luke Combs, who he credits with expanding his musical horizons after a Machine Gun Kelly set made him want to swear off mainstream music all together.
And of his new buddy Post Malone, he calls him one of the nicest dudes on ever:
“He’s a fucking super-nice guy. Like Del McCoury nice. You gain respect for somebody who knows every single word to ‘Jambalaya (On the Bayou).’
It’s like, ‘Damn, this motherfucker knows more Hank than I do.’”
Post Malone remembers their first hang out fondly:
“Hell ya, what a good night. It was at my house, got some beers and got out the guitars. He was recording in a town not too far from where I live. When I found out, I told him to head over.
I found Billy singing ‘Dust in a Baggie’ on his couch, man… every time I’d be drinking, I’d toss it on. I loved it.”