Johnny Depp Rocks! Blog

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!


Johnny Depp Rocks!


March 15, 2009

Love Him Madly

I told myself I would write more posts in 2009, but between being busy at work and waiting and hoping (in vain, mostly)  for final information on some potential projects, I kept putting it off!  Now that nearly a quarter of the year is over, though, I feel that I’m overdue to at least drop a few lines.

The big music news so far this year is that Johnny will provide a permanent narration for a Doors documentary entitled When You’re Strange.  With a temporary narration by director Tom DiCillo, the documentary already had its World Premiere at the Sundance International Film Festival on January 17, 2009, and it also screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February.  DiCillo has been somewhat criticized for his dry and wordy voiceover, but he has assured fans that his narration was always intended to be just temporary.  He has supposedly tweaked the wording for Johnny’s reading and vows not to screen the film again until Johnny’s contribution has been added.

Johnny would’ve been a small child during The Doors’ heyday in 1966-1970, but his love and respect for rock legends makes him a perfect fit for this film.  I’m thrilled that in the last few years, Johnny has lent a hand to several music documentaries (Taraf de Haidouks, Joe Strummer, Tom Petty) and I’m sure he’ll do the story of The Doors justice!  According to DiCillo, Johnny may be recording the narration as early as this weekend.  If  it does not happen soon, his schedule is going to be pretty tight for the next few months, between filming The Rum Diary and doing press for Public Enemies.  So I just wish the project well and hope that the film can be completed soon so it can start getting some screenings!

I’ve already corrected my 2008 year-end post regarding the Glenn Tilbrook release, Pandemonium Ensues.  Johnny does indeed participate on the album, but not on guitar as had originally been reported by Teletext.  Glenn himself states in this interview that he asked Johnny and Vanessa Paradis to sing on the album, but while Vanessa duets with Glenn on the song Interest & Love, Johnny was uncomfortable about singing and therefore did a spoken voiceover on the song Too Close To The Sun.  While I love any form of musical participation on Johnny’s part, I admit that I wish that Johnny had played guitar.  In Glenn’s interview, he mentions that the album was pretty much finished and was being mixed in LA by the time Johnny and Vanessa came on board, so I guess that there were no more instrumental parts left to add.  Next time, Glenn! The CD has already been released in the UK, and will come out in the US on April 9.

I’ve seen no news so far this year on the status of the Do It For Johnny or Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora documentaries.  Neither web page has been updated in quite awhile.  I’m also anxious to hear more about the possible Rogue’s Gallery follow-up, but there has been no info about that since the BBC report last summer.  Here’s hoping for more news soon on any or all of these potential projects!


Johnny Depp Rocks!

December 31, 2008

The year in (Johnny’s) music, and a look ahead to 2009

2008 was a musical year for Johnny Depp!  The most memorable music-related events of the year were the Second Annual Sheila Witkin Memorial Concerts, in which Johnny rocked out with The Kids in a pair of shows in August.  The shows were held in conjunction with screenings of the Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora documentary, which had had its World Premiere earlier in the year.  The film chronicles the history of the South Florida music scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s, as well as the first Sheila Witkin Memorial Concert that took place in January of 2007.  Johnny features prominently in this film, both as a musician and an interviewee.

In addition to performing with The Kids, Johnny took on several other musical projects, including directing (and possibly co-starring in??) Vanessa Paradis’ video for L’Incendie and co-producing and co-authoring the soundtrack for the film Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  He was also featured as an interviewee in several music documentaries that were released on DVD in 2008, including Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, Gypsy Caravan: When The Road Bends, and Runnin’ Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2 DVD edition).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street featured Johnny’s first major singing role on film.  Although the film was first released in the US in December of 2007, its domestic and foreign box office success continued well into 2008; it also received much critical praise and resulted in an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Johnny.  The soundtrack and DVD releases were also very successful.

So, what do we have to look forward to from Johnny Depp the Musician in 2009?  As of now, there seems to be one sure thing and several possibilities.  The sure thing is Johnny’s participation on Glenn Tilbrook And The Fluffers’ upcoming album, Pandemonium Ensues.  Tilbrook first mentioned in October that Johnny contributes to the album, and a recent item on the Teletext site confirmed that Johnny plays guitar on the song Too Close To The Sun. (Vanessa Paradis also appears on the album, singing on the song Interest & Love).  The album is due out in the UK on February 23. Johnny is said to be a longtime fan of Tilbrook and of the band he’s most known for, Squeeze, so this will be a welcome and much-anticipated guest spot!  (Corrections- Tilbrook has now clarified that Johnny’s contribution to the album is a narration for the song Too Close To The Sun, and the new UK release date for the album is March 2, 2009).

It has also been claimed that Johnny will play on a follow-up to the Rogue’s Gallery album that was released in 2006.  The follow-up was mentioned during a BBC report about some live Rogue’s Gallery shows that took place in the summer of 2008; the report claimed that Johnny, Keith Richards, Tom Waits and Shane MacGowan would be involved in the recording.  While I have not yet seen any confirmation of this project, my fingers remain crossed for this great possibility!  A somewhat more iffy but intriguing rumor reported last summer in the German magazine, Bravo, is that Johnny is in talks with Warner Music Group to start his own record label.  So far, this has not been verified by any reliable source, and it may end up being totally bogus, but the notion of Johnny becoming involved in the recording industry seems like a very cool and natural possibility. Perhaps we will hear about one or both of these projects in the coming year!

2009 may also see the general release of two music-themed documentaries relating to Johnny.  The first is Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora, which premiered last year and has had several screenings in South Florida.  The official website for the film features a signup page for screening and DVD release information, and it is hoped that there will be more opportunities in 2009 for theatrical screenings and/or a DVD release.   Furthermore, the makers of Do It For Johnny, a film about the quest of the filmmakers to deliver a custom guitar and a script to Johnny, promise that the film will be distributed in the US shortly after the New Year.  Stay tuned on both counts!

Finally, I can’t help but throw in a couple of wild dream projects that I wish for Johnny in 2009 (or anytime!)  The first is for Johnny to play on a new record with Shane MacGowan.  Johnny played on Shane’s 1994 album, The Snake, and in 2004 while Johnny was filming The Libertine, it was widely reported that he would be playing on an upcoming album with Shane, while Shane would play a small role in The Libertine.  Alas, Shane’s turn as a “Bard” was cut from the film, and the album never happened; instead, Shane reunited with The Pogues and has been touring with them off and on ever since.  But in 2005, Shane described jamming with Johnny during this time: “He is a great actor and a great guitar player too. We played together. He really heavied it up. His guitar playing releases all of his rage and frustration. We did one song together, but forgot to record it. But it sounded like an atom bomb going off!”  (Forgot to record it??  Atom bomb going off?? D’oh!!)  I don’t know if or when Shane will ever get back to recording this album, but if he does, I hope he remembers to include Johnny!

My other great wish is for Johnny to get to play with his Captain Jack Sparrow inspiration, Keith Richards.  On whether he’s ever played in front of Keith, Johnny once said, “No. I don’t have the kind of hair that would allow me to pick up a guitar and start strumming. I’ve never been that confident — or drunk. I just couldn’t do it. Unless he asked me to. Then maybe.”  The “Then maybe” keeps my hopes up that maybe someday, somehow, probably not for The Stones but maybe on a solo record (or how about the Rogue’s Gallery follow-up??) the opportunity will arise for them to play together.  Who knows?

At any rate, here’s hoping for a wonderful, musical year ahead for Johnny and all his fans!



September 3, 2008

South Florida Rocks!

Well, the Second Annual Sheila Witkin Memorial Reunion Concerts have come and gone. What an amazing weekend in Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano Beach! It was a real privilege to be there, and to share great music and great fun with some old and new friends.

The weekend’s festivities kicked off Friday evening with a screening of Rock And A Hard Place: Another Night At The Agora… or at least our attempt to see the screening. Despite two sets of directions and some well-meaning people on the streets, we drove around in circles for awhile before finally finding the venue 35 min. into the film. Nevertheless, we got to see the last half, and it was great. The film now includes some brand new interview footage of all four Kids together, shown for the very first time on Friday. This adds to all of the existing interviews and archived footage of many of the 70’s and 80’s South Florida musicians, and concert footage from the First Annual Sheila Witkin concert. I hope to get a chance to see the rest of the film sometime soon!

Then, it was on to the show, where after waiting on a fairly disorganized line at Club Cinema (they had the ticketholders and will-call recipients all in the same line), we got into the club in time to see the first band, Blank Tape, in progress. This is a group of young musicians, including the son of Slyder member Billy Livesay, and they delivered a rockin’ set. They were followed by kickass sets from Charlie Pickett, Slyder, and Tight Squeeze, all of whom were returnees from last year’s show. They played mostly originals with just a couple of covers sprinkled in for good measure, with styles ranging from alt-country to power-pop to hard rock. Next up were The Romantics, who were probably the most famous of all the bands to play. At last year’s show, Coz Canler and perhaps other member(s) of The Romantics joined The Kids for some encores, but this time we got to see the entire band, and it was a real treat. The final act was The Kids…. well… I’ll get back to them!

For Saturday’s show, the venue finally learned to separate the will-call and ticketholder lines, and getting in the club seemed to run much more smoothly. The first band of the evening was The Combination, which was a true mishmash of musicians from Tar & The Nicoteens, Screaming Sneakers, and Roll-N-Pinz, and they played a great punky set. Next up was Mad As Birds, featuring members of The Cichlids and The Eat in an intense set. They were followed by one of my new South Florida favorites, Critical Mass, sadly sans their traditional lead singer, Mick Fazz, but still delivering a great, fun power-pop set. The Reactions next played a set of punk-flavored tunes, joined on one song by Screaming Sneakers alum Lisa Nash. Z-Cars showed great harmony and great humor, ending their set with some Pete Townshend-style instrument-bashing. And LA-based My Dolls, featuring Bruce Witkin’s daughter Vee on lead guitar, showed the next generation of talent with some hard-driving rock. And the final act was…

The Kids. The Kids: Joey Malone, Bruce Witkin, Johnny Depp and Beano Hanti, headlined both nights, and their sets were well worth waiting for. It’s easy to focus all the attention on Johnny, but to do so would miss out on the considerable talents of Bruce, Joey and Beano, all of whom still play professionally. While Johnny was certainly my reason for looking into the Kids’ history in the first place, I can honestly say I’ve become a true fan of the whole band, and I’m so glad to have gotten the opportunity to get to know their music. Among the band’s two sets were many of my old favorites (and by “old favorites”, I’m mostly talking about songs that were new to me a year and a half ago at the first Sheila Witkin concert!) such as Babe, Lonely, Time To Explain, Nothing’s For Nothing, The Man That Knows Too Much, and You Only Want To Be With Me. Can’t Believe has quickly become one of my favorites. The Kids also have a great repertoire of covers, such as The Pretenders’ Precious, Elvis Costello’s From A Whisper To A Scream and Mystery Dance, The Clash’s Brand New Cadillac (joined both last year and at Friday’s show by Vee Witkin on lead guitar), and Joe Jackson’s Got The Time. But by all accounts, the absolute highlight of both evenings was their gorgeous yet edgy version of the Phil Spector/Ronettes’ hit single, Be My Baby. The song featured Joey on awesome lead vocals, and beautiful harmonies by Bruce and Johnny. (NOTE TO JOHNNY– after Sweeney Todd, we know you can sing! You should do more of it! 🙂 ) For an encore both nights, the other musicians joined The Kids on stage for the Van Morrison classic Gloria, which had been modified to be about Sheila… S-H-E-I-L-A, Sheila. On Saturday, this was followed by more jamming on Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Long Tall Sally. Despite a pair of very sore feet and practically no sleep all weekend, I had a thoroughly amazing time.

On Friday, there was a silent auction in which many cool items were available for bidding, including signed guitars, football jerseys and footballs. I bid on a Little Steven Underground Garage package, but unfortunately I was outbid. The proceeds went to the Dan Marino foundation.

After Friday’s show, Johnny was kind enough to agree to meet some of his crazy fans, among whom I was lucky enough to be one. The first thing I said to him was that I was sorry we had to put him through all this meet and greet stuff! It must be a strange thing to deal with. But gracious guy that he is, he insisted that he wanted to be there, and incredibly, thanked ME for coming to the show. Well, it was a very tough chore, but somehow I managed to make the sacrifice! A heartfelt thank you to Johnny, Joey, Beano, and especially Bruce, and to all the other musicians, organizers and crew, for helping to make this such a memorable weekend.

The Sheila Witkin Memorial Reunion Concerts were held in memory of a great woman and driving force of the 70’s and 80’s South Florida music scene, and for the benefit of the Sheila Witkin Foundation and the Dan Marino Foundation. Please visit for more information or to make a donation to their cause.


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