Johnny Reverb Holston

Johnny Reverb Holston Biography (Lord Help Us)

Ok so you’re used to someone else writing bios for people. Actually it probably really is some poor musician or actor writing their own stuff in third person like “Johnny is” and “Johnny accomplished this or that” or some sort of bovine residue.

But I’m writing this myself to be absolutely sure that most of the facts are correct…and some are slightly enhanced…sort of like reputation implants…

OK, I moved to Amarillo in the late 1950’s from Gulfport, Mississippi USA with my parents. My Dad made me drive the entire way even though I was only 5 at the time. Laws were more lax in those days and I sat on a beer box to see over the dash.  Seriously…

In Mississippi I had learned some piano from my Maw-Maw. She was the pianist in a tiny clapboard Baptist Church and she also taught lessons. Turns out she was a prodigy in the early 1900’s and could have gone to Europe to study but there was a little conflict going on over there between the Prussians and the rest of the world so that put a stop to that idea.

In Amarillo I got the Rock N Roll bug when my uncle Derb came to stay with us after he got out of the Navy. He was recording at Ray Ruffs’ studio back in the day and had made an acetate demo. Uncle Derb also had a tiny tape recorder. I used to sneak it out of his closet and record myself vocally imitating an electric guitar on it when he was gone. I’m sure he would have killed me for using his recorder if he’d have known then. Maybe he did and I just got off since he was staying with us for free.

Played some music in school band since I was athletically disinclined. I really kind of dug Stars and Stripes Forever, still do actually. However, those dudes from England (Beatles!)  hit Ed Sullivan Show and the horn had to go. In waltzed the guitar a couple years later.

My Dad had an electric guitar and amp at his house in Louisiana (oh yeah my parents split up along the way). I still have that guitar. I learned as much as I could and within a year was trying to start a band.

I ran into schoolmate Nick Tyson and we hit it off really well. He and I were (still are) kindred spirits, similar talent level, and we both discovered a fondness for music, beer and girls. We started a band and played at the YMCA and The Scene on Amarillo Blvd. and in surrounding towns like Perryton, Muleshoe, Spearman, Dumas, Hereford etc.  During this time we got to know Randy Tupin who shared our new hobbies.

Well, after high school I went to the Atlanta Pop Festival and saw Jimi Hendrix, the original Allman Brothers, naked ladies, and you name it. Now it was “How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm” syndrome. Off to Austin I went.

I stayed in the Capitol City for 28 years. My first band there was with, interestingly enough, some other guys from Amarillo namely Roger Crabtree, Phillip Fajardo, Glen Wilbanks and Pasha (Randall Alsup). We played at the now defunct One Knite Club on Red River. One of the other bands that played there regularly was Storm featuring a young Jimmy Vaughan. Before long I was totally infatuated with his economical guitar style.

A couple years later I had the fortune to join the Milton Carroll band. Milton had moved to Austin from New York and had 2 more records left on his 3 record deal with RCA. My very first recording sessions were with Milton. I still have a copy of those tapes. We opened a lot of shows for Jerry Jeff Walker and even got to hang around with Jerry and his guitarist John Inman a lot. We also were fortunate to have the late great Jimmy Day come play with us most of the time. Do a Google search for Jimmy Day, you’ll be impressed. He was a very famous steel guitarist who moved to Austin with Willie Nelson when Willies’ hair was just down past his ears. We all had a LOT of fun back in those days. :)

At the peak of my career I was in a Reggae band called The Lotions. We played all over the USA and shared the same booking agency as Stevie Ray Vaughan so we did some gigs with him. In fact The Lotions and a few other Austin bands were neck and neck to be the next big thing. Let’s see, Christopher Cross, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Omar and The Howlers, Stevie, and a bunch more. It was one of the Golden Eras of Austin music.

Well, as it turned out we didn’t get the record deal everybody was promising us. I think they just wanted to get in free and hang out with our girls and drink free beer. Those silly record company A&R folks, go figure

I did a short stint with the local CBS Songs affiliate Serendipity Music and thought for sure one of my songs was gonna be a big hit. At least that’s what I was hearing from some A&R guys from Epic. Oh well, note to self, never bet the farm on what an A&R person promises you.

So up next was Parenthood, and not the TV series, but the real thing. So yours truly got out of the Music Biz to be a Daddy. I did manage a short run in the 1990’s going to France and Eastern Europe doing the Blues thang and that was picking up steam but personal issues prevented me from keeping that going.

So, some time later, I ended up back in Amarillo to work for my old pal Randy Tupin and hang out with Nick Tyson. I never thought I’d be coming back but it has turned out to be really cool. Then I met my Kimberly and it was like we were destined to meet. And now here we are. I’m still slinging a guitar. In fact I’m also fixing guitars at the local Guitar Center. We’re getting a little more “seasoned” all the time but we’re still kickin’.

And I still drive like a 5 year old sometimes, just not sitting on a beer box :)

2 comments on “Johnny Reverb Holston

  1. Diego Perez says:

    hope i get to see you at concrete street tomorrow at 8:00 i never heard you play but there is a first time for every thing i am 13 and i love classic rock thought i share that

  2. Jeffery Holmes Brown says:

    Johnny Reverb! I still remember the 1st time I ever heard you play; blew me away! I was in shock! Man, what talent! I’m VERY fortunate that me and my wife got to see you at a few Lotions gigs. Great times and a whole lotta fun! Whole helluva lot of fun!
    Love the bio! I’m thinking a book deal should be your next challenge. Sounds like you enjoy writing. I bet you’ve got some stories to tell.
    I don’t know that I knew you grew up in Amarillo. Huh. And me starting out just a little south of there in Brownfield. We both grew up with grit in our teeth. Who’da thunk.
    Glad to hear you’re in love and doing well. Miss seeing you around. If you’re ever in Chicago, I’d love to buy you a beer.
    Take care, my friend.
    Jeffery Holmes Brown at gmail

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