John Mills

Born in Kingston upon Thames in 1947, John Mills took up the guitar at the age of nine. Initially self-taught, he later studied at the Spanish Guitar Centre in London and then at the Royal College of Music under the professorship of John Williams. In the summer of 1968, having been awarded a grant by the Spanish government, he travelled to Spain to take part in the famous masterclasses given by the legendary Andres Segovia, held in Santiago de Compostela. Two years later he played in masterclasses given by Julian Bream at the University of Warwick. 

Working largely as a soloist during the 1970s and early 1980s, John performed in over 25 countries recorded several albums and numerous radio programmes for BBC radio broadcast.

He was a guitar tutor at the Royal College of Music’s Junior Department for several years in the early 1970s, then Head of Guitar at the Nelson School of Music in New Zealand from 1985-88, before taking up a professorship at the Royal Academy of Music – a position he held for twenty years. John was invited to join RWCMD as Head of Guitar in 1992 and while he retired as head of department in 2014, he continues in his role as senior guitar teacher at the College.

John was also associated for many years with the celebrated International Classical Guitar Summer School & Festival held at West Dean, including eleven years as Director, until 2012.

In addition to his career in performing and teaching, he also is involved with research into the early guitar, particularly the transitional guitar of the late 18th century, as well as the emergence and development of the modern guitar in the second half of the 19th century. 

In other areas of music, he is a keen advocate of the music of Frederick Delius and is a member of the Delius Society. He has also made a study of, and written articles about the Soul Music scene of the USA in the 1960s. 

In 2017 - as well as reaching his 70th birthday - John will also celebrate 55 years on the concert stage. He continues to perform internationally, as well as giving frequent masterclasses, seminars and workshops. He is also very active in the field of chamber music with duos consisting of guitar and violin, harpsichord, piano, voice, and of course music for two guitars with his wife Cobie Smit.