11 Of The Most Famous Musicians From New Hampshire

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

New Hampshire, known as the Mother of Rivers, is also the birthplace of several famous musicians. Maybe the granite mountains, rich forests, or patriotic history of the ninth independent U.S. state inspire people to pursue creative endeavors like music. 

Whatever it is, these 11 famous musicians from New Hampshire have made quite a name for their home state, and in this post, we’ll take a look at their lives and careers. Let’s get started.

Related: Our post on other popular American musicians.

1. Mandy Moore

Born Amanda Leigh Moore in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1984, Mandy Moore is an American singer, actress, and activist. Not long after her birth, her family moved to Florida, where she eventually grew up.

Moore began performing as a child and was discovered by accident while working on her first demo when she was only 13.

At the age of 15, she began touring with popular boy bands NSYNC and Backstreet Boys before releasing her debut single, “Candy,” followed by her first album, So Real, in 1999.

Moore is also a talented actress who has starred in several popular films and TV series, including “A Walk To Remember” and “How To Deal.”

Related: Read about some famous musicians from Florida here.

2. Ray LaMontagne

American folk, rock, and blues musician and singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne was born Raymond Charles Jack LaMontagne in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1973. 

LaMontagne first began performing music in 1999 while working part-time as a tutor. He was eventually discovered and soon released his first album, Trouble, in 2004.

LaMontagne has released seven more studio albums in the years since, including his latest, Monovision, released in 2020.

LaMontagne is known for his deep, authoritative singing voice, which he says he achieves by singing “through his gut.” 

Today, LaMontagne lives in Ashfield, Massachusetts, with his wife and their two children.

Related: Read more about popular musicians from Massachusetts here.

3. Ronnie James Dio

Ronald James Padavona, better known as Ronnie James Dio, was a heavy metal singer-songwriter whose music career spanned over five decades. 

Dio was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1942. He grew up in Cortland, New York, where he began his music career at the age of 15 with his band, Vegas Kings, who would later become Ronnie and the Rumblers.

He’s performed with a long list of rock artists, but his most notable performances include Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Tenacious D, and his own band, Heaven & Hell.

4. Franz Nicolay

Born in 1977 in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, Franz Nicolay is a musician, writer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Nicolay’s many talents include vocals, guitar, keyboard, banjo, and accordion. He has also performed with many bands, such as The Dresden Dolls, Against Me!, and Mischief Brew. 

Nicolay has a significant solo musical career as well, releasing successful albums such as Major General, Do the Struggle, and To Us, The Beautiful.

Aside from his music career, Nicolay is a prolific writer. He’s written several books, including a collection of short stories entitled Complicated Gardening Techniques and the novel Someone Should Pay For Your Pain.

5. Patricia Racette

American opera singer Patricia Lynn Racette was born in 1965 in Manchester, New Hampshire. 

Racette taught herself to play the guitar when she was only eight years old and performed in various school music programs growing up. She studied vocal jazz at the University of North Texas, reluctantly pursuing opera after hearing that her voice was better suited to that discipline.

Fortunately, it turned out that Racette loved performing opera, and she has since performed leading soprano roles in the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, and many other companies.

Racette’s key performances include Madama Butterfly, Aida, Carmen, and La Boheme

6. GG Allin

Kevin Michael Allin, better known as GG Allin, was born Jesus Christ Allin in Lancaster, New Hampshire, in 1956.

Allin was an American punk rock songwriter and “shock rocker” known for his transgressive and outrageous performances. His stage shows often included self-harm, defecation, and even assaulting fans.

Allin has been described as the most extreme punk performer in rock history, setting new standards for stage performances. Some of his most notable songs include “Bite It, You Scum,” “When I Die,” and “Don’t Talk To Me.”

Always a controversial figure, his career was punctuated with legal troubles and drug abuse. He died of a heroin overdose after a show on June 27, 1993.

7. Amy Beach

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, better known as Amy Beach, was born in Henniker, New Hampshire, in 1867. 

As a child, Beach was a musical prodigy, memorizing dozens of songs before her second birthday and composing waltzes by her fifth. 

Beach debuted in Boston in 1883 at the age of 16 and married just two years later. Her husband, himself an amateur singer, asked Beach to perform less, so she turned her attention to composing until he died in 1910, when she moved to Europe to perform.

Beach composed more than 300 songs throughout her career and was the first woman to conduct a major professional orchestra. She also helped other women pursue musical careers.

8. Connie Converse

Born Elizabeth Eaton Converse in Laconia, New Hampshire, Connie Converse was an up-and-coming American singer and songwriter whose career was cut short by her sudden disappearance in 1974. 

In the 1950s, while working at a printing house, Converse began writing and performing folk songs for friends, though her religious parents disapproved of her musical career.

Converse performed on The Morning Show on CBS in 1954 and recorded an album for her brother in 1956. However, she struggled to gain traction in the music industry.

In August 1974, family members report that Converse wrote them letters expressing her intention to start over somewhere else and asking them not to try to find her. 

Though rumors abound about her disappearance, the mystery remains unsolved.

9. Jon Spencer

American Blues musician Jonathan (Jon) Spencer was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1965. 

He’s been a part of several musical acts, including Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, and most famously, Pussy Galore, which he founded in 1985.

In addition to his own musical acts and performances, Spencer’s legacy includes helping musician R.L. Burnside rise to fame after decades of living and performing in obscurity.

Spencer is well-known for his vocals and distinct guitar playing, but he also occasionally plays the theremin. 

He announced in 2022 that he was founding his newest band, Jon Spencer and The Hitmakers.

10. Al Barr

American punk rock musician Alexander Barr, better known as Al Barr, was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1968.

Barr has performed in several rock bands, starting with D.V.A. (Direct Vole Assault) in 1984, followed by Scissorfight, L.E.S. Stitches, The Bruisers, and more.

However, Barr is best known as the lead singer of the American punk rock band Dropkick Murphys. Their most popular mainstream hit single, “Tessie,” was released in 2004.

Sadly, due to his mother’s ongoing struggles with dementia, Al Barr announced in February 2022 that he would not be performing with the Dropkick Murphys on their 2022 European and American tour.

11. Tom Rush

American blues and folk singer-songwriter Tom Rush was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1941.

He first began performing as a musical artist in 1961 while attending college at Harvard University.

Rush’s most famous song, “No Regrets,” was released in 1968 and has been covered by other famous musicians such as Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, and Waylon Jennings. 

Rush opened the doors to a new wave of mainstream singer-songwriters, as his renditions of songs by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and other musicians helped them earn recognition early in their careers.

Rush continues to make music at his home in Massachusetts.

Wrapping Up Our List Of Musicians Hailing From New Hampshire

Mandy Moore by Daniel Benavides (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

New Hampshire may not be the first place people imagine to have famous musicians, but it is home to these 11 local and international celebrities.

The truth is, you don’t have to grow up in a big city like New York or Los Angeles to have a thriving musical career, as these New Hampshire musicians prove.

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.