John was born and raised in the Bronx, where his initial interest in music came from listening to his father play the button accordion. John began to play at the age of 12, studying under John Glynn. He later studied with Martin Mulvihill, and through Martin's son Brendan, John met Billy McComiskey. It was Billy who introduced John to the music and friendship of Seán McGlynn, the great accordionist from east Galway, who greatly influenced John’s music.
In 1982, John became the first American-born musician to win the Button Accordion Senior Championship at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. In February 2009, he was inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Region CCÉ Hall of Fame. John has several recordings to his credit and is a composer of many tunes. He also performs tuning, adjustments and repairs of instruments. John teaches button accordion and collaborates with other teachers to provide young musicians with opportunities to play in student sessions, competitions, and performances.