Johnny Depp Rocks! Blog

July 25, 2011

Johnny Depp Rocks! turns 5!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — madscntst @ 9:30 pm

Johnny Depp Rocks! celebrates 5 years online!  I created this site as an attempt to compile accurate information about Johnny’s musical side: his bands, live performances, recordings, and videos, as well as his friends in the world of music, and share it freely with all his fans.  In honor of the 5 year landmark, I’ve made two changes to help make the site more accessible.  First, it has a new domain name! The home page can now be found at http://www.johnnydepprocks.com​/ Set your bookmarks! (The old links will still work for the time being).  Second, you can now find (and like!) Johnny Depp Rocks! on Facebook, to keep you up to date on any Depp music-related news or additions that have been made to the site.  See you there!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

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July 3, 2011

School’s Out, and Name That Guitar turns two

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — madscntst @ 4:43 pm

A week ago, on June 26, 2011, a lucky 200 concertgoers got to witness something that yours truly wishes were more common: Johnny Depp playing guitar live on stage.  Johnny joined Alice Cooper at the legendary 100 Club in London, playing lead guitar on I’m Eighteen and also participating in a School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall medley.  Johnny had reportedly been dining with Alice and Tim Burton the night before (Alice will reportedly have a cameo in Johnny and Tim’s upcoming film Dark Shadows), and Alice casually asked Johnny if he wanted to join them in concert the following night.  If only it were always this easy to get Johnny on stage!  Alice was impressed with Johnny’s guitar chops, putting him on par with the likes of Brian May or Slash: “He’s a great guitarist.

At the show, Johnny sported a guitar he hasn’t (to my knowledge) been seen with before publicly, that friends taip and Maggy helped identify as a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special.  This might be the “vintage Les Paul” that Johnny was spotted purchasing this past April at the Chicago Music Exchange.

I was happy to add this gorgeous guitar to the Johnny Depp Rocks:  Johnny’s Guitars page, which I have just noticed will turn 2 years old on or about July 6.  Time flies!  Take a look at my original blog post introducing this section (which is now split into two separate pages, one for electric guitars and one for acoustic guitars and other assorted instruments).  As always, if anyone out there has any additional information on the guitars shown on this page, please let me know!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

December 31, 2010

2010 Johnny Depp Rockin’ Year-end Wrap

Once again, long time, no post!  But 2010 has been another great year for Johnny’s musical pursuits!  First came the announcement that Johnny would put on his rarely-worn director’s hat for a feature film music documentary. Then he played lead guitar on not one, but two music singles.  And finally, he returned to the stage for his first live performance in 2 years.  Along the way, he found time to lend his voice to other music-related projects.  Not too shabby!

The documentary in question is a film about Johnny’s rock hero, friend, and fictional pirate “dad,” Keith Richards.  It is tentatively titled Happy, after Richards’ song of the same name.  Johnny says they filmed for about 5 days in late January of 2010, and there has been mention of colleagues digging through lots of archive footage.  Johnny mentioned the project briefly while promoting The Tourist in late 2010, though he hesitates to refer to himself as a director or producer:  “Keith is being a wild beast that you just sort of document.  You just turn on the camera and let it run out, and feast upon what he has to say.” So far there’s been no mention of a specific release date, so we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled for updates in 2011.  In addition, perhaps through his participation in this documentary, Johnny provided a narration for the audiobook version of Richards’ autobiography, Life.  We’ll get to see Keith and Johnny together in May of 2011 in a non-musical setting, as Keith will return as Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Still, I’m also hoping to see Keith and Johnny play together at some point… perhaps they will, in the documentary 🙂

Johnny also lent his spoken voice as narrator of the excellent Doors documentary, When You’re Strange, and also did brief readings of Jim Morrison’s poetry for the related soundtrack.  The film seemed to be more welcomed in Europe than in the States, where it only played in a handful of cities and didn’t come within 150 miles of Washington, DC.  I had to settle for a viewing on PBS and the DVD.  On the bright side, the film received a Grammy nomination for long form music video, so we’ll see in 2011 whether it wins.

Johnny’s two singles contributions were Babybird’s Unloveable and Shane MacGowan & Friends’ I Put A Spell On You, both released in the spring.  Johnny also directed the video for Unloveable, the first single from Babybird’s album, Ex-Maniac, which was produced by Johnny’s Kids bandmate, Bruce Witkin, and Bruce’s partner Ryan Dorn.  The video, a take on An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, was perhaps more memorable than Johnny’s lead guitar on the song, which is solid but not particularly flashy.  But Johnny let himself loosen up and get appropriately bluesy on the Shane MacGowan single, which was a benefit single for relief of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  Wish he could let himself stand out like this a little more often!

It was a wonderful surprise when in late August, a few days before the Voices For Justice concert in Little Rock, Arkansas, to benefit the West Memphis Three, it was announced that Johnny would attend and perform.  Because Johnny has long stood on record in support of the West Memphis Three and efforts to give them a new trial, it made sense that he would lend his support at the concert and perhaps give a speech.  But would he actually play??  I still remember the thrill I got when I saw the first few still photos, and then some brief music clips, through the magic of Twitter and YouTube.  Johnny held his own with the likes of Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith for a heartfelt and emotionally powerful show.  Since the concert, the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed to new hearings for the WM3, which is the first step in allowing for a new trial.

What’s in store for 2011?  First and foremost, we can await the new Patti Smith album that is planned for release in 2011.  While there has been no official confirmation of Johnny’s participation, Johnny has mentioned previously that he might play on it, and an Italian article about Patti also mentioned Johnny’s involvement.  Patti herself has not said much about the album, declining even to give its title, but we will see!  Also a possibility for 2011 is the long-awaited followup to the 2006 Rogue’s Gallery album.  Last year, there were reports that it would be released in 2010, and that Johnny would be featured, but there has been very little news in the last year (I did see one brief mention of Tom Waits recording something for it, but that didn’t ever seem to be confirmed).  But with Pirates 4 coming out in May, who knows if that may be the chance to tie in a release of Rogue’s Gallery II?   For what it’s worth, Babybird is currently recording a new album in LA with Witkin and Dorn, and while nobody has mentioned that Johnny would play again, it’s nice to hope!  Either way, I loved what I heard of the recording session that was streamed from the Unison studios in December, so I’ll be purchasing the album regardless!  The two unreleased documentaries that have been mentioned here on the blog and at Johnny Depp Rocks! for several years, Do It For Johnny and Rock And A Hard Place, appear to be in limbo but would certainly be welcomed if they should see the light of day in 2011.  Finally, here’s hoping for Johnny to play a live show(s) in 2011, or to pull out some more music-related surprises!

Happy New Year, all!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

August 31, 2010

Voices For Justice

Long Time, No Write– partly because I’ve had a super busy summer at work, partly because admittedly, there isn’t a huge amount of traffic here, and partly because after the Depp music news-heavy first few months of 2010, there hasn’t been anything new to talk about lately.

That changed on Saturday, August 28, when Johnny made his first live concert appearance in 2 years, as a participant in the Voices For Justice show in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Joining him were such rock icons as Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison, Joseph Arthur, Natalie Maines, Bill Carter, Will Sexton, and Lisa Blount.  The show was a rally in support of the West Memphis Three:  Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were convicted of the murder of three young boys in 1993.  Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison, while Echols was given the death sentence.  Many believe that the three were wrongfully accused, with no real evidence against them, other than that they were misfits who enjoyed heavy metal music.   No matter what one’s opinion might be of what actually occurred the terrible day the three children, Steve Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore, were killed, the trial was fraught with inconsistencies, evidence was lost or tampered with, some leads were not followed, and testimonies were later recanted.  Many close to the case who initially assumed the West Memphis Three’s guilt now believe in their innocence.  New DNA and forensic evidence has failed to show a link to the suspects and rather points to other possible suspects, but requests for a retrial have so far been denied.  The Arkansas Supreme Court will hear the evidence on September 30.  You can read more about the case on Wikipedia.

As far as the concert itself, it sounded like a unique and amazing event.  Johnny and Eddie both read from Echols’ journal, and there was a video message from Echols himself and a greeting from his wife, Lorri Davis.  Johnny’s former P bandmate Bill Carter performed a song called Something Made Of Paper (or Anything Made Of Paper) that he and his wife Ruth Ellsworth wrote specifically for Damien Echols.   Eddie performed covers by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Waits, as well as originals, and Natalie Maines and Ben Harper’s band Fistful of Justice (featuring Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison) perfomed several songs apiece.

Then, it was time for Johnny the musician to become involved.  He joined Vedder for an outstanding performance of Jerry Hannan’s song Society, from the motion picture Into The Wild.  Johnny took the acoustic lead part, and the audience’s surprise and appreciation when they realized that Johnny was playing the solo was audible.  By many accounts from the Pearl Jam community, this performance was the highlight of the evening.  See the performance here!

Then, Patti Smith was called on stage.  Eddie and Johnny remained on stage, but did not play while Patti performed My Blakean Year solo.  Then, they joined her for Wing and Dancing Barefoot.  The show ended with a great performance of Patti’s People Have The Power, with all of the musicians joining her on stage.

I’ve gotta give a big hand to the fantastic folks who attended the show, especially from the Pearl Jam community, who have been unbelievably generous with photos and YouTubes of the performances, as well as great stories and reviews of the event.  From what I could tell from visiting various forums, the audience gave total respect to Johnny as a musician and did not even question his presence as a guitarist.  He was described as a “Cool MoFo” and playing a “great solo”.  For my part, it’s wonderful to see non-Depp fans appreciating his guitar chops.  I’m also thrilled to see Bill Carter and Johnny playing together again, and hope that someday maybe they’ll consider a mini-P reunion.

I can’t let this blog go by without at least acknowledging that it’s almost exactly the Two Year Anniversary of the 2008 Sheila Witkin Benefits (August 29 and 30, 2008).  I have the fondest memories of those two nights, sharing them with several good friends, and getting my brief moment on the 29th to shake Johnny’s hand and thank him and The Kids for playing for us. What fantastic shows– The Kids, you’re the best!!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

April 4, 2010

Recapping the recent JD-related music releases

As of this coming Tuesday, Johnny will have 3 count ’em 3 new discography entries so far this year- 2 as a guitarist and 1 contributing spoken word.  In addition, he was also involved in 2 videos and a feature film relating to all 3 audio releases.  This makes 2010 a particularly musically productive one for Johnny, and the year isn’t even half over yet.  I don’t really feel qualified to offer “reviews” of Johnny’s new recordings, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to talk about them, anyway! So here’s what Johnny’s been up to, showing his musical side:

Babybird: Ex-Maniac (Johnny is guitarist and music video director for the lead single, Unloveable):

I had never heard of Babybird or Stephen Jones, not even his (apparently massive) 1995 hit single, You’re Gorgeous, until it was announced last September that Johnny was directing a music video for an upcoming single.  So I am listening to the March release, Ex-Maniac, as a very new, very casual fan.  From the few snippets I’d heard beforehand, I expected this to be a listenable enough album, but I was very surprised at how much I genuinely liked it.  It got several listens when I purchased my iTunes copy (available to US customers a few weeks before the official release), and the hard copy I received last week from the Unison Music Store is now on constant replay on my car’s CD changer.  The album’s tunes are melodic and often pretty, but the lyrics are dark and cynical, and often pull at the heartstrings.  Unloveable is a strong first single, with a large, anthemic sound.  Johnny provides a tasteful if somewhat restrained guitar part which suits the song well; still, I wish he’d have had the chance to stand out a little more.  For the video, Johnny chose to portray Ambrose Bierce’s short story, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, also known as a short film that was shown as a Twilight Zone episode in the 60’s.  The video is stylistically very beautiful and tells a complete story in just 4 and a half minutes.  There is said to be an 8 minute version that may or may not ever be released; let’s hope that it will be.

Ex-Maniac has many other great songs on it, including another candidate for a single, Bastard.  Bastard is somewhat of an anti-Unloveable; the lyrics somewhat mirror the latter song, but the infectious pop sound and chorus defy the listener to love him, to touch him.  Drug Time’s bass line and harmonies are heavily reminiscent of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, while Roadside Girl has some of the same feel but to a lesser extent.  Failed Suicide Club, For The Rest Of Our Lives, and Not Good Enough are other standouts for me, and the mariachi horns on On The Backseat Of Your Car help to bring the album to a memorable close.  Jones’ voice, especially when he sings low, reminds me a little of Echo And The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, who’s always been a fave of mine.  In fact it’s his great, expressive voice that keeps me listening.  The album is produced by Bruce Witkin, who also provides a ton of musical backup on multiple instruments, and his partner, Ryan Dorn.  Here’s hoping that Witkin and Dorn will produce more great music from Babybird in the future (and that Johnny also might be able to participate, too!)

Shane MacGowan & Friends: I Put A Spell On You (Johnny is a guitarist on the single and in the video):

Now, HERE is Johnny’s chance to show off a little bit, on a wicked guitar solo for this single to benefit the Concern Charity for its relief efforts in Haiti.  Shane and a number of singers and musicians, including Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie, Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde, Paloma Faith, Eliza Doolittle, James Walbourne, Mick Jones, Cait O’Riordan, and Carwyn Ellis, participated in a recording session in London, while Johnny recorded his part in LA.  The result is a bluesy, edgy take on the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic that is much more memorable than the typical generic charity single.  The single is available as a digital download and the video can be seen on YouTube.  Now, if only Johnny would do more of this type of guitar work with Shane!  Rumor has it that Shane is working on some new material, and back in 2004 he had invited Johnny to play on his new album (which never materialized at the time), so who knows?  Besides I Put A Spell On You, Johnny previously appeared on Shane’s 1994 album, The Snake, and starred in and directed the video for That Woman’s Got Me Drinking.

When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors (Johnny narrates the film and contributes spoken word to the soundtrack):

The soundtrack will be released this coming Tuesday, April 6, but is already available for listening via streaming on spinner.com.  The soundtrack describes Johnny’s contribution as that of reading Jim Morrison’s poetry, but most of his tracks are very brief- only a few lines here and there.  Nevertheless, each few seconds of spoken word tie together The Doors’ classic songs on the disc extremely effectively.  Johnny’s voice is lush and reverent and provides just the right tone- he is helping to showcase The Doors without upstaging them.  In the film, which will be released theatrically on April 9, I hope that his narration will be equally as effective.  From what I have heard so far from the trailer and first look clip, I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

February 28, 2010

Someday we’ll look back on this…

and it will all seem funny, so once said my man Bruce Springsteen.  Back in November, I wrote about some cool pieces of Depp music memorabilia I had come across and put on Johnny Depp Rocks.  In the last couple of months, between holidays, work, not one, not two, but three major snowstorms in the DC area, more work, and various other events going on in my real life, some more cool stuff has been found.  I’d put a note on my home page about these additions, but as I continue to update things and prepare to take the note off, I thought I’d place the info here for posterity.

A bunch of Depp music-related photos and scans have been added throughout the site in January and February.  Thanks to Manya for some photos of The Kids from 1983, performing and posing.  Thanks to Ken M., a South Florida music magazine from 1981 contains a photo fashion spread (!) of Johnny and Bruce Witkin from when they were in The Kids, as well as a number of ads, a monthly schedule, and other references to Kids gigs.

scarlet bugle

a week of October 1981

I’ve also gotten a number of scans from old Rolling Stone issues going back as far as 1988, with everything from interviews to news of side projects to album reviews, and have added them in.  Look for new additions throughout the site, especially in the Galleries, Timeline, Live On Stage, Discography, Videography, Guest Sessions, Bands, and Viper Room sections.  And hey, if anyone is out there and happens to have any old magazine or newspaper clippings of The Kids, Rock City Angels, P, or any other item relevant to Johnny Depp Rocks, please let me know!!

Looking ahead again, Johnny’s certainly been busy with a ton of musical projects lately, and within the next couple of months we’ll be treated to a number of releases on which Johnny has participated:  Babybird’s Ex-Maniac CD (Johnny plays guitar and directs the video for the lead single, Unloveable), Shane MacGowan & Friends’ I Put A Spell On You (a charity single for Haitian earthquake victims; Johnny plays guitar and is featured in the video), and When You’re Strange – A Film About The Doors (Johnny narrates).  Also on the horizon will be a documentary that Johnny is making about Keith Richards.  I’m anxious to talk about all of these as they come about, and will hopefully get a chance soon.  For now, I’ll just say I’ve been thoroughly enjoying both Ex-Maniac and I Put A Spell On You, and am thrilled to see Johnny being a part of all this great music!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

December 31, 2009

Johnny Depp Rocks! (in 2009)

Johnny plays guitar!  Johnny directs two music videos!  Johnny narrates a film about a legendary rock band!  Johnny is a Grammy nominee!  All this and more occurred in 2009, showing much to look forward to in 2010, as well.

First, the Grammy nomination.  Johnny and Douglas Brinkley were nominated for their extensive liner notes to Gonzo:  The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson – Music From The Film.  This marks Johnny’s first official Grammy nomination, to my knowledge.  The Sweeney Todd soundtrack was nominated last year; while the Mamma Mia! soundtrack was listed as by “Meryl Streep (& Various Artists)”, Sweeney Todd‘s soundtrack was only denoted as by “Various Artists,” so there was no specific nod to Johnny. (Bah!)  Even though Johnny is not now being nominated as a musician, it’s cool that since his first love is music, he is being recognized by the music industry.  Not everyone takes this nomination seriously- fellow nominees Susan and Lloyd Ecker, who wrote the notes for Sophie Tucker: Origins of the Red-Hot Mama, 1910-1922, say in a Marketwire news item that they are “conceding the ‘Pirate’ vote.”  I suppose this is the Eckers’ attempt at a joke, perhaps in the vein of Sophie Tucker herself.  But I feel that they’re insinuating that Johnny might win based on popularity of a film character rather than on merit.  Bah again!  At any rate, whether you feel the Gonzo notes are worthy of an award or not, we will find out who wins the Grammy on January 31.

In 2009, Johnny also provided the narration for the Tom DiCillo-directed Doors documentary, When You’re Strange.  After premiering at Sundance and screening a second time in Berlin with a temporary narration by DiCillo, Johnny recorded his narration in the spring of 2009, and the film screened for the first time with his narration on June 21 at the LA Film Festival.  The film screened at numerous film festivals worldwide during the summer and fall of 2009, and has picked up distribution deals in France, UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia, with a US deal hopefully coming any time now.  Of Johnny’s contribution, DiCillo says, “[Johnny] had been my first choice. My sense was always that the film needed a real actor to perform the narration, someone who could genuinely relate to the Doors and tell the story as if it really meant something to him. He has succeeded.” As someone who grew up with The Doors in the 60’s, I can’t wait for the film’s release!

Johnny also found time in his busy schedule to direct two music videos during the year.  The first, Vanessa Paradis’ Il y a, was released in October to promote her new Best Of CD (which also features a Paradis/Depp-penned song, St. Germain, which originally appeared on her 2000 album, Bliss).  The second, Babybird’s Unloveable, was filmed in September and will be released in conjunction with Babybird’s upcoming CD, Ex-Maniac, in March of 2010.  It has also been announced that Johnny played guitar on the song, which will be the lead single for the album.  While in 2009 we were treated to Johnny’s appearance on Glenn Tilbrook’s Too Close To The Sun from the Pandemonium Ensues CD, that participation was spoken word.  Having a guest appearance as a guitarist to look forward to is even better!

Some things I wrote about in my 2008 year-end blog did not end up happening in 2009.  The follow-up to the 2006 Rogue’s Gallery CD is apparently still on, and according to producer Hal Willner, will be released in 2010, and will indeed feature Johnny as a musician.  We’ll see!  We also have not yet seen theatrical or DVD releases of Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora or Do It For Johnny, but I am still hoping for progress on both of these films in 2010.  One other possibility for the coming year is for Johnny to contribute to an upcoming Patti Smith album.  In a June BBC interview with Edith Bowman, Johnny divulged, “I think I might play on Patti Smith’s next record… just a bit, a song or something.” Since the two were spotted together several times throughout the year, I’m hoping that they’re planning such a collaboration.  As of now, however, I don’t know of any specific plans on Patti’s part to release an album.  Let’s hope!

Here’s to Johnny Depp continuing to Rock in 2010!

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

November 29, 2009

Down memory lane…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — madscntst @ 11:32 pm

Well, maybe not down MY memory lane.  See, I wasn’t anywhere near Johnny Depp back in the day when he was pursuing a career in music.  In the early 80’s, while Johnny was playing with his dream band The Kids, I was rocking out to Durham, NC’s resident new wave band, The X-Teens.  And in 1986-87, after he returned from filming Platoon in the Philippines and got a gig with the Rock City Angels, I was on the opposite coast, a regular at Ben Vaughn shows in Philly and Trenton, NJ.  But if I’d been in a different place and time, maybe I’d have seen a few of the shows that I’m only learning about all these years later.

It’s one thing to hear that The Kids moved to LA in late 1983 and changed their name to Six Gun Method, but it’s another to see actual confirmation of the band, in the form of a 1984 ad in the LA Weekly:

and while it’s great to see the occasional magazine article where either Johnny or his former Rock City Angels bandmates describe the band or the shows they played, a handbill from their New Year’s Eve 1986 show is a cool artifact.

Getting to see these blasts from the past doesn’t necessarily add any earth-shattering knowledge to the History Of Rock & Roll, but it’s still very cool to get to find a few little souvenirs of Johnny’s tenure as a musician in LA.  Each small tidbit adds a little bit of knowledge to Johnny’s musical history– a show date here, a venue there; every piece fills in a little of the puzzle.  Several new puzzle pieces dropped in my lap earlier this month, thanks to Mike of janesaddiction.org, who helped point me to some vintage (’84-’87) LA Weekly ads he’d scanned for Jane’s Addiction (a band that the Rock City Angels opened for on several occasions). Besides the Six Gun Method and Rock City Angels scans shown here, several other Rock City Angels ads were found.  Check them out on the Johnny Depp Rocks! Live On Stage page.  It’s just a little taste of some actual shows that really existed, in which Johnny (presumably, if the timing is as accurate as I hope) was living his first dream as a rock & roll guitarist.

It makes me wonder how many other puzzle pieces may be sitting around– ads, articles or reviews of The Kids, Six Gun Method, Rock City Angels, or P in newspapers or entertainment rags that are sitting around in someone’s basement, or a South Florida or LA public library, just waiting to be discovered.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a day job 🙂

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

August 15, 2009

In defense of “film star music projects”

This morning, a blog post appeared on the website of the revered indie music magazine, Paste, in which Austin L. Ray gives faint praise to Ryan Gosling’s band, Dead Man’s Bones, stating that even if the music is “just kind of there”, at least 10 other actors have had music projects that were “way worse” than Ryan’s.  The very first piece of evidence on the list is P’s 1993 SXSW performance of Mumble.  This is followed by YouTubes of Russell Crowe, Jared Leto, Keanu Reeves, Joey Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Costner, Billy Bob Thornton, Steven Seagal, and David Hasselhoff.  I suppose the point in this exercise is to prove that nobody can be creative enough to both act and play music, or at least they’d better not bring both to the public eye.  If you go to Paste’s About Paste page, they state that the magazine is “for people who still enjoy discovering new music, prize substance and songcraft over fads and manufactured attitude.”  The blog’s implication seems to be that if an actor makes music, it must be a gimmick– it’s artificial, it’s a manufactured product intended to make a quick buck and capitalize on the star’s fame.  Even if that’s not what they’re saying (though it sure as heck seems it is), we’ve all heard this argument before.  A True Music Fan wouldn’t consider an actor’s music worthy.

I dunno.  Okay, I can’t really say I’m a particular fan of all these actors’ music. Barring Johnny, I’m not even all that familiar with most of it.  But except for David Hasselhoff, who I believe has been wildly popular in Germany, I don’t think any of these guys have had a whole lot of commercial success.  I had to look up Steven Seagal on Wikipedia because I honestly didn’t know he was a musician, but for him and certainly for all the others, their musical turns have not just been some fly-by-night thing.  They’ve all been at it for some time, and yet it doesn’t seem like any of them have been hawking their CDs very much in the mainstream.  I know the Bacon Brothers have played quite often in my area, in a little club without too much hoopla. And didn’t Joey Lawrence pretty much grow up singing and dancing?

So is this music just a fad?  Is it just something manufactured by the film studios?  Or does it just show that these guys need music in their lives, just like so many of us do?  Is it wrong for them to find a creative outlet?  Isn’t the very notion of rock ‘n’ roll to sing and play your heart out, no matter whether your music is accepted by the Establishment or not?  Does Paste now become the Establishment?  Assuming that an actor will suck at music is the same as assuming that a musician will suck at acting; maybe there isn’t a great deal of awe for David Bowie’s or Tom Waits’ acting abilities, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying a number of their performances on film.  It is possible to keep an open mind.

The blog’s inclusion of P’s Mumble as one of their arguments for “way worse” music is amusing on many levels.  First and foremost, Mr. Ray makes a point of Gosling’s music being influenced by today’s indie rock, yet he doesn’t mention, or doesn’t realize, that Mumble is a clear tribute (or ripoff, depending on your point of view!) of one of rock’s great legends, Link Wray.  For better or for worse, Gibby Haynes added some lyrics, irreverence, and attitude, and made the song P’s own; at least they should get credit for sheer rock ‘n’ roll chutzpah.  Second, P never appeared to be primarily Johnny’s band– Gibby was pretty much the one in the spotlight.

But mainly, P never tried to take themselves too seriously.  By all accounts, P was born out of a love for cooking:  while Johnny was filming What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in the Austin area, he and his childhood buddy Sal Jenco hung out with Gibby (of the Butthole Surfers) and roots rocker/songwriter Bill Carter to prepare gourmet meals.  But when the SXSW organizers approached Gibby about booking the Butthole Surfers for their festival, Gibby suggested his “other band.”  In an Austin Chronicle article, Bill Carter explains:  “It wasn’t a band. [Sal Jenco] wasn’t particularly a drummer — he’d played years ago or whatever. And I’m a songwriter, not a guitar player’s guitarist. Johnny [Depp] can actually play guitar better than I can, but he didn’t want to feature it at all and be the actor-turned-rock-star for the evening. So just the fact that we actually did it was kind of amazing to me. We weren’t really good, it was just fun.” You only have to give a quick listen to their songs to know that it’s at once just tongue-in-cheek, while also giving a tip of the hat to a variety of musical genres.

As for P’s studio album, which was released in 1995, Johnny’s 2008 interview in Rolling Stone tells his version of the story:  “P was a group of friends who were given the opportunity to make a bunch of noise together and document it.  For some reason, Capitol Records wanted to do it, and that was the most surreal part.  We said, ‘There will be no photographs, there will be no tour, there will be no videos, there will be no bios, there will be nothing.’ And they agreed to it!  We didn’t let them in the studio when we were recording the record. There’s a lot of really funny shit on it. Gibby was on fire. He’s a genius.  And so after Capitol Records listened to the record, they just went, ‘What is this?’ and buried it. Which was not even the slightest disappointment.”  Doesn’t seem like they were aiming for a marketable product to me; seems more like an example of good old rock ‘n’ roll brazenness.  The original release went nowhere on the charts, and a 2007 re-release on Caroline records didn’t have any promotion whatsoever, despite the fact that Johnny is a much more bankable star now than he was in 1995.

So what’s my point?  I guess that as long as Johnny, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Costner and Billy Bob Thornton aren’t constantly barraging me with their music, I celebrate the fact that they could create some fun music that could be enjoyed by their fans. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fair, but don’t begrudge them, or anyone, the chance to make music.  For me, I would be thrilled if Johnny were to play again with P, or with The Kids, or with any group of musicians.  Nothing wrong with making music, even if you’re a film star who might be a target of some ridicule from True Music Fans.

Cathy

Johnny Depp Rocks!

P.S. While I was a little turned off by the arrogance of the blog I wrote about, I do have tons of respect for Paste Magazine, and I have them listed in the Credits and Fine Print section of my website.  They are currently running a campaign to save their mag, which like many print publications is in financial trouble in this day of the Internet.  Even a small contribution will help, and will also allow you to download some great tracks as a thank you for your support.  So, if you love music and want to support a great music magazine, check out Paste’s campaign page to find out how you can donate!

July 6, 2009

Name that guitar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — madscntst @ 8:32 am

“He’s got one of the best guitar collections, very eclectic.”
– Keith Richards, on Johnny Depp’s collection, 2007

Johnny has always shown so much passion for music that it wouldn’t be surprising for him to have a vast guitar collection.  When a video clip surfaced last month of Johnny receiving a vintage guitar for his birthday, on the set of The Rum Diary, I thought to myself, “Okay, so how big does this make his collection NOW?”  So I got the bright idea to start a new section of Johnny Depp RocksJohnny’s Guitars.  I figured I would go through all the photos I’ve accumulated of Johnny seen with a guitar in some fashion, and sort them out according to make and model.  Easy, right?

It started out that way– I was able to find quite a few examples of Johnny playing his trusty Fender Telecaster, which articles have told us is a 1956 model.  And we’ve seen him as Captain Jack Sparrow, posing with the gorgeous Gibson Master Museum Collection Pirates of the Caribbean guitar, valued at around $100K.  But as I went through the various stage performances that we know of – and there aren’t even that many – not to mention photoshoots, movies (including Platoon, Cry-Baby, and Chocolat), and even interviews where a guitar has been strategically placed in the background, I realized that he’s got a good number of distinct guitars (and basses).  And those are only the ones he has been seen with publicly!   A few of these guitars may be props or borrowed guitars, but there is no way to know for sure.  Knowing Johnny and how much he loves music, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all his, but at the very least, they’ve all been guitars that he has used.  I wouldn’t even presume to guess how large his collection really is, but Johnny’s Guitars at least attempts to organize the ones we know about.

Now, guitar expert, I’m not!  I own a little no-name student-sized acoustic guitar, that my parents bought for me when I was about 12.  I took about 8 months of guitar lessons at the time, and another few months’ worth of group lessons when I was in college.  I could pick notes if I really struggled, but basically I’m best at strumming along with Kumbaya. I’ve never played an electric guitar in my life.  I know that Bruce Springsteen plays a Fender Esquire with an extra pickup, but only because people have told me so.  Thank goodness for Google and Wikipedia!  And thanks also to some friends who have been able to help ID some of these guitars.  Since the quality of some of the photos and screen captures is not that great, in some cases I may never be able to say more than “green electric guitar.”  But it’s still an item to include in this impressive collection!

So, if anyone out there in cyberspace happens to stumble on this post and can help with any information about any of the guitars shown on my Johnny’s Guitars page, please do not hesitate to let me know!  You can e-mail me at info@johnnydepprocks.com or post to this blog.  I hope to hear from you!

Cathy

P.S.- Links above have been updated with the new johnnydepprocks.com domain.

Johnny Depp Rocks!

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