Born John Marty Stuart in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Marty picked up the mandolin as a child and by age 13, he had joined Lester Flatt's band. After Flatt's death in 1979, Stuart switched to guitar with which he backed Doc and Merle Watson, and ultimately his greatest hero, Johnny Cash. In 1977, Marty also began releasing solo albums. The first, Marty, with a Little Help From My Friends, came out on the small Ridge Runner bluegrass label. The second, 1982's Busy Bee Café, released on the Sugar Hill label, was dominated by traditional material and included contributions by Cash, Doc Watson, and Earl Scruggs.
In the late 80's and 90's, Marty had several major label releases including Hillbilly Rock, an old-fashioned country album with a "kick". The height of commercial success came when a song he had co-written, "The Whiskey Ain't Workin," was to be recorded solo by Travis Tritt. Travis and Marty got on so well, that they decided to record the song as duet.
Now known as one of Nashville's premier pickers, Stuart also personally possesses one of the world's largest collections of country music artifacts and instruments, items of which he loans to the Country Music Hall of Fame, testimony to his commitment to keeping traditional country music alive.