Saturday, 13 August 2011

Cairns Characters: Johno Johnson, Musician

Simon Crerar
Saturday, August 13, 2011
© The Cairns Post

<strong>True Legend:</strong> Legend is a banned word for most subjects, but not the incomporable Johno Johnson. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
True Legend: Legend is a banned word for most subjects,
 but not the incomporable Johno Johnson. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

FORMER blues guitar wildman Johno has been a key driver of the Cairns scene ever since he arrived from Victoria nearly 40 years ago.

I moved up here to escape the cold. I came up to visit my sister, and as soon as I saw the weather I liked it. The hippies were out on the beach: I liked it immediately. I used to play in bands in Melbourne and Sydney, I was on television before colour TV, singing with long hair. I was raunchy, young and good looking.

 I was a good singer when I was young. I used to copy Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Even today no one is as good as they were. Now I do a bit of everything, depending where people are from. So for people from Scotland I do Rod Stewart.

The most popular song I do today is Stand By Me by BB King, but I sing it in the style of John Lennon. It’s a big hit still all over the world. I busk every day for a couple of hours each evening. My speaker box points out the lagoon so I don’t disturb the diners. I haven’t had any complaints about the noise. I still play old Rock n Roll stuff, Jonnie Be Good, that kind of stuff. I love playing in front of a crowd, I get a great buzz. I don’t get nervous, the only thing I worry about is being too loud.

I like to get kids dancing, it makes me feel really good. The kids love me and so do their parents, it’s about making people happy. I think it’s terrific. Look, when my Blues Bar closed down, I thought it was a bigger blow for the town than myself.

I’ve had a good life and enjoyed every moment of it. OK, Johnos used to be a big tourist attraction, but things move on. People from places such as Yokohama and Helsinki still pass by me and tell me how much they loved the place, though.

Blues will always be big. I still get loads of requests for Hendrix and BB King, always will. I do OK when I’m busking, it’s not a bad life. I’ve not done anything else for a living and I’ve made thousands over the years, but I’ve never counted any of it.

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