Deke’s Johnny Depp Story

May 26, 2022

I know that people only care about celebrity stories these days, so here’s my Johnny Depp story. Boy, it’s underwhelming! But I’m not making it up.

When I got my check for getting a song in the movie Election back in 1999, I did what all hillbillies do: I bought a Cadillac. I bought the cleanest, grandpa-goes-to-the-golf-course 1979 Coupe DeVille you’ve ever seen. It was silver, with 40,000 miles on it. The upholstery was mint, it had a continental kit on the back, it was sharp! I was so proud of that car. If I’m remembering correctly, it was $1,200 for this used luxury yacht of yesteryear.

Debbie Daughtry was out visiting me at the time (1999? 2000? somewhere in there) and can confirm this story: Coming over Barham Boulevard from Hollywood back to Burbank, traffic was brutal. We were inching along at 2 mph going down the hill. We had the windows down in the ’79 Caddy, when all of a sudden a decrepit old 1980s Mustang convertible inched alongside us. A disheveled-looking guy was behind the wheel, holding the steering wheel with both hands at 10 and 2, like a grandma.

“Hey, NICE CAR!” The guy yelled to me. “What year is it?”

“It’s a ’79 Coupe DeVille,” I said.

“It’s beautiful! I really appreciate people who take care of their cars!”

Then he pulled forward, ahead of us. Debbie and I looked at each other and wondered aloud, “Was that JOHNNY DEPP?” Yes it was. I can’t explain the beat-up old Mustang convertible. But it was Depp, fairly incognito, driving an old beater.

Thank you!! I also have exciting stories like:

Running into Gordon Jump (the “boss” on WKRP in Cincinnati and the lonely Maytag repairman from 1989 to 2003) at Kinko’s in Glendale; playing the Viper Room and Micky Dolenz being the only celebrity in attendance; going to a Christmas party in the Valley and getting there right as George Takei (Mr. Sulu on Star Trek) was leaving.

These will all be compiled into my next coffee table book, “How I lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years and somehow managed to avoid any meaningful celebrity encounters.”

I had the ’79 Caddy for about a year. We had street cleaning where I lived in Burbank, so I paid the next-door neighbor kid $5 a week to move it from one side of the street to the other when I went on tour. While I was gone, the battery died, and his grandpa hooked up the battery charger on the high-power “START” position instead of the low-power “CHARGE” position, and left it on overnight. The electric seat motors caught on fire and burned up the whole interior, along with the wiring harness. That was the end of that car. The next royalty check I got, I bought a 1957 Coupe Deville that had a bad exhaust leak and a nasty habit of dying in the middle of intersections. Fascinating stuff, I know—but that’s “celebrity” for you!