John Gracie was born in Creetown, Kirkcudbrightshire, SW Scotland and at the age of nine he began playing the cornet in the village brass band. After his school years he went on to study the trumpet at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with Harry MacAnespie and with John Dickinson the Principal Trumpet in The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

He then went to the Guildhall School of Music in London for a short time studying with Bernard Brown before joining the BBC Training Orchestra in Bristol in 1969.

After two years in The BBC Training Orchestra and working with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, John was appointed Principal Trumpet in the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast from 1971 to 1973.

In 1973 he was appointed Sub/CoPrincipal Trumpet in the BBC Northern Symphony ( Now called the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) in Manchester and was appointed Principal in 1977. During his time in Manchester he taught at The Royal Northern College of Music and also at Manchester University and played with the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, City of Birmingham, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, London Sinfonietta, London Symphony and the Philharmonia orchestras.

He has worked with top conductors such as Boulez, Tilson Thomas, Sinopoli, Svetlanov, Abbado, Haitink, Davis,Chailly, Salonen ,Lopez Cobos.Rattle, Sanderling, Gibson, Jarvi,Weller, Lazarev, Deneve, Oundjian etc John returned to Scotland in 1981 to take up the position of Principal Trumpet in The Royal Scottish National Orchestra . He held this position for Thirty Five years .

He joined the Brass staff at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in 1982 as Trumpet Tutor and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music in 2014.

As well as teaching, John is now a freelance trumpet player and in 2019 completed 50 years as a professional trumpet player.