RIP Johnny Powers

Jan 17, 2023

RIP Johnny Powers, one of the last original Sun Rockabilly artists. His “Long Blonde Hair” still stands as one of the most goosebumps-inducing rockabilly singles of the 1950s. Johnny was one of the first original 1950s artists I ever saw, he came out to Southern California shortly after I moved to Los Angeles in 1991, backed by Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio with T.K. Smith on guitar. Man, we were all thirty years younger then, including Johnny, and I remember Johnny and the Fly-Rites just tearing the roof off the joint, three or four nights in a row. Such a great memory. Johnny was pretty loyal to his Detroit bands over the years, so I didn’t get a lot of chances to back him up, but I did back him up at least twice, what a thrill! Also, I will mention his other claim to fame: he was a fixture in the early years of Motown, and he had a great story about those stomping feet with tons of reverb that you hear at the beginning of “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes. That’s Johnny, up in the Motown echo chamber, stomping his feet as hard as he could. You’ve probably heard that record a million times, but you’ll hear it differently now, I promise! RIP Johnny, you left behind a lot of great music and memories.