Gavin DeGraw: A Biography

by R.Allen Smith

What's in the book?

Learn about the life and adventures of Gavin DeGraw!

    • Introduction
    • Background and Upbringing
    • Major Accomplishments and Awards
    • Personal Life
    • Recent News
    • Public Statements and Attributed Quotes
    • Gavin DeGraw Trivia
    • Conclusion



When he was about 15 years old, Gavin DeGraw saw Billy Joel in concert.

According to an  interview with AOL, after the show, the young singer and piano player said to his parents, “Hey I think I know what I want to do for a living.... What we just saw, that concert, that’s what I’m going to do.”

“That looks like fun, doesn’t it?” his father asked.


And his father said, “Well, that’s what you’ll do”

And that’s what Gavin DeGraw has continued to do. As one of today’s most respected and successful singer-songwriters, DeGraw has always preached the old-fashioned values taught to him by his parents in the southern Catskill Mountains. His hit records and sold-out stage performances have been a big part of his career, but his music is the vehicle he uses to reach out to young people who feel bullied, teens who try too hard to be something they’re not, and families in tragic circumstances who need help.

In an age of reality TV, Facebook and cell phone sexting, Gavin DeGraw has been a throwback to old times. He has been the polite next door neighbor always ready to help carry the groceries inside.

In his signature song, and biggest hit single, “I Don’t Want To,” DeGraw described his mission:

“I came from the mountain/The crust of creation/My whole situation-made from clay to stone/And now I’m telling everybody”

He has been the messenger from the Catskills, on a track to share his understanding of the world, an understanding that came from a close-knit, loving family and a unique and supportive hometown.

Even after DeGraw relocated to Manhattan in 1998 to pursue a music career, he applied his small-town values to move toward his goal.


The creator of a new television series aimed at teenagers, “One Tree Hill,” thought the song perfectly captured the atmosphere of his new show and asked to use it as the show’s theme song.

Although the show started off slowly, it soon became a hit with teenagers, exposing DeGraw’s song to a much younger audience.

“It brought younger people” DeGraw told The Associated Press. “I wouldn’t be able to reach those audiences otherwise. The fact is, the drive-home-from-work radio audience isn’t the same audience that’s watching certain TV stations at 8 o’clock at night, or 9 o’clock at night.”

Suddenly, the song was everywhere. It even became a popular song for contestants on “American Idol,” the biggest show on TV. Eventually, the song slid into the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and propelled Chariot to platinum status.

This new success allowed DeGraw to go back into the studio, with a different band, and record a scaled-down, “unplugged” version of the Chariot album. The new tracks were added to the original album, and the collection was released as Chariot + Chariot Stripped.

As the third single, “Chariot” rode into the top 30, Chariot the album went double platinum.

After spending an unusually long time touring and promoting Chariot, DeGraw released his second studio album, Gavin DeGraw. Right out of the gate, everything looked promising as Gavin DeGraw debuted at no. seven on the Billboard album chart, higher than Chariot. It also debuted at no. one on the digital sales chart.

Rolling Stone hailed the album’s first single, “In Love With a Girl,” calling it “frat-boy soul at its most tuneful,” as the song reached no. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The follow-up single, “We Belong Together,” did just as well.

In March of 2009, wanting to give something back to his hardcore fans, DeGraw quickly released Free, an album of recorded versions of live show fan favorites.

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