(aka: FIREBIRD JOHNNY, PASTOR JOHNNY FIREBIRD)
I recorded my first record in Atlantic City when I was 4 years old. My mom held me up to a microphone in something that looked like a phone booth so I could record a couple of my favorite songs: the latest Everly Brothers song “Bye Bye Love”, and my favorite cowboy song “Wringle Wrangle”. My mom had the only copy so it never became a million seller or anything. I still have that little vinyl record and it reminds me that I had a calling to be a musician from the start. I had a 45rpm record of Elvis doing “You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog”, and I wore it out. I can’t imagine how my parents endured hearing that song over and over. One night they took me to a drive-in movie to see a film of all the popular rock and roll acts. I don’t know what year it was, but I know I was little enough to fall asleep in the rear window shelf of the old Buick we had. In that film I saw Jerry Lee Lewis do another of my favorite songs “Great Balls Of Fire”. He kicked his piano bench over, and at the end of the song fireworks shot out of his piano. I knew then that I wanted to do that stuff too.
After starting to take piano and guitar lessons in the 2nd grade from a nun at the Catholic school I attended, I really started to play the guitar seriously in the 7th grade and formed my first band. In the 11th grade I was in a band that you could describe as an early Punk rock band, and we promptly got banned by the local public school system. While attending Georgetown University in 1971 and 72, I spent a great deal of time in the D.C. clubs learning from listening to some of my heroes like Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, James Cotton, Rory Gallagher and others. I left college to play in nightclubs fulltime. On July 21st, 1974 I made Jesus the Boss in my life, and EVERYTHING changed. That’s what will happen if you GENUINELY meet Jesus. On that night, my girlfriend (who is now my wonderful, supportive wife of 28 years) and myself answered the altar call in a storefront church. It was time that God got some interest back from all he had invested in me. Since that day I’ve used the talent he gave me to be a worship leader, a solo singer/guitarist, band member and whatever else He wanted me to do, BUT the crowning moment was when he put me together with the musicians that make up the Full Gospel Boogie Band in 1991. I’m hoping that my career as a musician will culminate in The Boogie Band playing at The Marriage Supper Of The Lamb. That’s the gig I REALLY want!
Currently I work in radio broadcasting at a station owned by Pat Sajak (yeah, the guy from Wheel Of Fortune).
I thank God for creating barbecue, Gibson Firebirds, Fender Stratocasters, tube amplifiers, The Three Stooges, cruise ships and wrist watches.
I’m looking forward to that day when I will enjoy living in the physical Kingdom Of God with my wife, family and friends---BUT UNTIL THEN---let’s do all we can to take a lot more people with us!
Email John directly