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What happened to John McEnroe’s music career after retirement?

John McEnroe Musician
John McEnroe Musician. Photo/Musicbug
  • When he retired in 1992, John McEnroe turned to music
  • He first played at a pro level in 1978
  • His wife Patty Smyth is a singer and songwriter

At one point, all he did for decades was play tennis and even clinched world No.1 ranking at some point. But do you know John McEnroe musician?

Probably not. The tennis legend many people have come to love for his incisive tennis commentaries loved music so much that he tried it out after retirement.

To understand all this better, here is a little history about McEnroe. The 63-year-old was born in Germany to American parents who later returned home and settled in New York.

McEnroe started playing tennis at the Douglaston Club in New York when he was eight years old. The Eastern Lawn Tennis Association enrolled him at the age of nine, and he immediately began competing in regional competitions. He then played in national junior events before enrolling in the Port Washington Tennis Academy on Long Island.

At 18 years, he joined the ATP Tour as an amateur. In 1977, McEnroe won the mixed doubles at the French Open with Mary Carillo. He then went through the singles qualifying event at Wimbledon but lost in the semifinals to Jimmy Connors.

As a male qualifier, it was the best ever by an amateur in the Open era. Coach Dick Gould snagged McEnroe after Wimbledon. He enrolled at Stanford University, where he guided the Cardinal to an NCAA championship in 1978 and won the NCAA singles championship.

John McEnroe Musician

John McEnroe Musician. Photo/

But, even as his tennis star shone bright, John McEnroe musician status remained active in hindsight. And when he called time in tennis, the guitar became his best friend.


McEnroe eventually achieved his post-tour objective of becoming a working musician when he retired from professional tennis in 1992. He had pals teach him how to play the guitar, and some of those buddies included Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen.

Incidentally, John McEnroe musician brand came in the middle of his divorce from his first wife. He began writing songs and founded a band called The Johnny Smyth Band. He was the lead singer and guitarist and played modest shows in towns.

His music got a love-hate feeling. After two years of touring together, McEnroe abruptly left the band in 1997, before completing his debut studio album. The same year, his second wife, a rockstar Patty Smyth, told him that he would never make it far in music as she would.

According to Page Six, McEnroe and Smyth performed on stage together in 2015 at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, New York. They performed in front of an audience that included Lorne Michaels and Harvey Weinstein. McEnroe was joined on stage by Smyth.

The celebrity couple covered Territorial Pissings album by Nirvana. Their daughter Ava would join them on stage and they performed the song together.


While he quit music, his second love in 1997, his guitar strumming skills are fantastic. He was his band’s resident guitarist and always delivers a superb performance.


John McEnroe

John McEnroe. Photo/NPR

Besides John McEnroe musician narrative, his years in tennis often bring questions about how good he was. The answer is he was really good but had several losses, just like many other star tennis players of his time.

It’s possible that no one was better than McEnroe when it came to hard courts, rapid surfaces, and inventive shots.

Tennis fans were split down the middle when it came to their feelings toward him due to his fiery demeanour and occasional bad-boy conduct. On the inside was an extremely competitive athlete who detested coming in second place. Despite this, he occasionally allowed his feelings to get the best of him.

Who could forget his legendary duels with his adversary Jimmy Connors or his loss in the 1980 Wimbledon final against Bjorn Borg in five sets? It remains one of the greatest matches in the history of Wimbledon to date.

He’s a seven-time Grand Slam champion. He enjoys $12,552,132 USD prize money in his tennis career. Here is a summary of his career stats

  • Beginning of professional career: 1978
  • 1992 was the year he retired
  • 105 lifetime titles
  • Total prize money $12,547,797
  • 7 Grand Slam Singles
  • Three titles at Wimbledon and four at the US Open
  • Inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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