Sunday, October 19, 2014

Guitar Dreams: How Mike McAdoo Turned His Childhood Dreams Into Reality

What would you like to be when you grow up? Teachers, parents, and many other adults ask this question of every single child at some point. Commonly, the answer is something along the line of a doctor, an astronaut, a basketball star, or some other profession that fascinates young children. For Mike McAdoo, his answer to that question in 7th grade was that he wanted to become a guitarist. Unlike many others’ childhood aspirations, Mike was able to turn that dream into a reality.

On Mike McAdoo’s 10th birthday, his mother asked him if he would like to take guitar lessons. Like most kids of that age, he jumped at the chance. As luck would have it, he became hooked and spent the next six years studying the guitar and taking lessons in a local music store. These lessons also prepared him to become an instructor who would teach lessons for 18 years in music stores. At the age of 14 and 15, Mike attended a music school in Texas for the summer. While there, he learned how to play fingerstyle guitar using a technique similar to that of Chet Atkins. This legendary guitarist soon became one of Mike’s major influences.

Mike began playing his guitar professionally in 1977 and has made a living with it ever since. About a year after marrying his beautiful wife, Kim, a man named Al Wilson and his wife told Mike about somebody they knew in Branson that was looking for a guitar player. He quickly put together a cassette of his guitar playing and sent it to this man. Mike ended up being hired for the job over the phone. Until that point, he knew nothing of Branson and had never been there—until he moved there in 1986. Since then, he has played in several different shows in Branson. He started out playing for Buddy Greene until 1987 before switching to play for Shoji Tabuchi for several years. One of his longest running gigs was as guitarist for the Osmonds. He played for them for six years, performing in front of an average of 400,000 people yearly. Most recently, he was the lead guitarist for The Texas Tenors from 2012 until a few months ago. While with them, he traveled all over the country. In fact, he played in more states with them than ever before. Now, he is a guitar instructor at Evangel University in Springfield, MO. To date, he has spent 18 seasons in Branson. Occasionally, he will move away (he taught guitar at a high school in Texas from 2004-2005), but he always moves back to Branson.

Photo courtesy of Helen Flynt
In addition to his extensive history, Mike has had some very unique experiences as a guitarist. One of these experiences was in April of 2009 when his show went overseas to play for the troops in Baghdad, Iraq, and Ramstein, Germany. Then, while he was playing the guitar for The Texas Tenors, he was fortunate enough to take part in a PBS Special called The Texas Tenors: You Should Dream that aired November 30, 2013, and is still being aired across the country. In fact, this special was the recipient of three Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards on October 18. Most recently, a song that was on Mike’s Tribute to Chet Atkins CD, ‘Yankee Doodle Dixie’, was licensed to appear on a NBC Universal video game on Xbox called ‘Slap Shot’. This game is expected to come out sometime this fall. Additionally, Mike has been the recipient of numerous awards such as the Best Lead Guitarist in Branson from 1995-1997. He has also been published in several different publications including Guitar Player Magazine in 1988, Peavey Monitor in 2001, Acoustic Guitar magazine in 2003, and Wood and Steel magazine in 2005 and 2009.

Mike knows firsthand how difficult it is to make it in the music industry. According to him, the best way to do so is to be persistent. It is important to have the support of friends and family, but an aspiring musician needs to step out of his/her comfort zone. Mike also noted that there is a lot of competition in the music industry, especially in Branson where there is so much talent. Doing your homework ahead of time becomes especially important. In the end, it is worth the trouble. Mike says that the best part about actually being able to perform live with a group is that you know you are good enough to be up there, and you get to watch the people in the audience enjoy what you are doing. That is exactly what makes it so exciting. That feeling is what has kept Mike playing the guitar professionally for 37 years.
Mike with The Texas Tenors and Three Bottle Band
Photo courtesy of Mike McAdoo
 When Mike is not playing his guitar, he is either teaching lessons, playing golf, spending time with his wife and daughter, or recording demos for other people in his recording studio. He has also recorded several CDs of his own and created several instructional DVDs. If interested, the CDs and DVDs can be purchased through CD Baby or AmazonAlthough he has already accomplished most of what he set out to do with his career, he does still have some dreams in mind. One of these is to write and record a song that is cut by a major artist. Knowing Mike and his persistence over the years to become a professional guitar player, he will be able to achieve his dream. After all, he is the perfect example that dreams can come true. 


  1. I have been lucky enough to see Mike McAdoo perform numerous times. He is an extremely talented guitar player. Really enjoyed reading this blog.

  2. I have heard Mike play the guitar and sing many times in concert with The Texas Tenors. He is extremely talented and entertaining. Knowing Mike, I am sure he will have no trouble achieving his dream.

  3. I'll miss not seeing Mike play with The Texas Tenors. I enjoyed watching and listening to him. He is a very talented musician. I wish him and his family the best in whatever they decide to do in the future.