Inducted - Minneapolis 1986
John was born of Croatian parents on February 9, 1927, in Library, Pennsylvania. Both his mother and father, who migrated to this country from Croatia, were tambura players; his mother played the bugarija and his father played the bass and prim. John was the only child of five to survive infancy.
At age six, John was already studying the violin with private lessons. Not long thereafter he began to pick up the tamburitza instruments that were available in the Gregurich household. All five of the instruments that comprise the tamburitza family -- the brac, prim, cello, bugarija, and bass -- were all eventually mastered through study.
In addition to his love of music and his tamburas, John was an outstanding athlete during his high school years. As a result, he was offered two football scholarships -- one at the University of Southern California and also at the University of Maryland. Simultaneously, because of his versatility with the tamburas, he was being rushed with a scholarship to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and an offer to join the Duquesne University Tamburitzans under the direction of Matt Gouze.
Following his high school graduation in June of 1944, he followed his heart and first love. He accepted the Duquesne University scholarship and became the well-rounded, versatile instrumentalist while majoring in history and political science.
A year of study at Duquesne while performing with the Tamburitzans was interrupted by Uncle Sam who also sought his services. Following Gregurich's stint in the Air Force, he returned to his studies at Duquesne University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953.
He surged forward and began composing and arranging tamburitza music in the early 1950's. In 1952, one of his original compositions, Tamburitza Sweetheart, was recorded on a 78 r.p.m. Other original compositions followed, including Gypsy Music, Tamburitza Waltz, Mala Jadranska Ruza and Od Srce ... all of which were recorded. Od Srce was so appealing and had made such a hit that a major music company in New York City saw fit to purchase it.
Tamburitza Waltz became the beloved theme song for the Pittsburgh Tamburitzans and has remained so to the present day. Croatian lyrics to such songs as Milica and Tuzna Djera were original inspirations of John Gregurich.
As a musician, composer/arranger in his own right, and as a recording artist, John's talent and enthusiasm spread. He became lead brac player for the Kossovo Tamburitza orchestra who also recorded three albums on the Greyko Recording label.
Gregurich then formulated his own Greyko Tamburitza Recording Orchestra who not only recorded but performed throughout the U.S. and Canada for 20 years. They documented and recorded for posterity some of the finest tamburitza music ever heard.
In 1953, Gregurich became the Assistant Director of the All University Tamburitzans, a collegiate 30-piece ensemble, under the capable direction of Matt Gouze.
John's tamburitza teaching and conducting of the Pittsburgh Tamburitzans is legend. With that group alone, his musical concert tours have taken him coast to coast through the U.S. and Canada, as well as four concert tours in Europe and New Zealand.
Greyko Recording Company, under John Gregurich's direction, has become the largest manufacturer of Yugoslav long-play albums, tapes, and cassettes in the United States, including broad selections of tamburitza and polka music.
Return to Hall of Fame Membership List