In high school he played in a number of local punk rock bands and began writing his own songs. He has stated that he has never not been in a band of some sort since he was 16 years of age. During this time, McPherson also developed a strong interest in 1950s rock and roll after being exposed to the music of Buddy Holly. This went on to shape his song writing and sound for bands he was in such as The Poison Okies and The Starkweather Boys. He studied visual arts in college, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tulsa, and later worked as an art and technology teacher. After deciding to pursue music more seriously, McPherson sent a demo to Jimmy Sutton of the small independent record label Hi-STYLE Records, which specialized in roots music.
Sutton agreed to produce McPherson's debut album: this became 2010's Signs and Signifiers. On 19 November 2012, Rolling Stone labelled McPherson an "Artist to Watch" in a 3½ star (out of 5) review of Signs and Signifiers after its wider release through Rounder Records. The band played the acoustic stage at the Glastonbury Festival 2015 on Friday June 26, before continuing their European tour in the Netherlands. In October 2015, JD McPherson and band appeared (in animated form) as musical guests performing a new and original song "Crazy Horse" for the DreamWorks animated TV series, The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show on Netflix. Read more on Last.fm.
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