The Electric Chairs

 Wayne county and The Electric Chairs

Punk music early days
J.J. JOHNSON | AKA JOHN JOHNSON | BIOGRAPHY
Early Days

Drummer & percussionist JJ Johnson, aka, John Johnson, and now, keyboard player, singer / songwriter / producer and filmaker, was brought up in a rural, working class coal mining and farming community in North Nottinghamshire, England.

JJ played in local gospel, rock, and heavy rock bands from the age of twelve, of various influences (Beatles, The Who, Kinks, Manfred Mann, Cream, etc) and, then later, he worked in the local industries by day and played and toured with bands at night, playing support to bands such as Hawkwind, Cochise, The Groundhogs, Family, Atomic Rooster, Black Sabbath and others.

After these bands that JJ had been part of had split up at the end of 1969, having spent a lengthy time unemployed on the dole, and being disillusioned with the then fading youth movement, he decided to hitch-hike south down the A1 route to London. After being homeless for a while and residing in some pretty dubious squats around the Portobello Road/Ladbroke Grove area of London, he eventually managed to find work doing several jobs, and connected and played with various musically diverse musicians and bands ie. rock, latin american, jazz, reggae, funk, soul, etc, in the locality, and around London throughout the early 1970's, including a group based in East London featuring the original keyboard player, Jimmy Winston from the SMALL FACES.

Then in 1974 he joined SPECTA, a three piece experimental instrumental band based in Brixton, South London, which played small festivals and selected gigs, such as the I.C.A.

In late 1976 Specta had a change of direction, and continued to gig intermitently through part of 1977, in between JJ's touring commitments with 'The Electric Chairs'.

'Specta' then split, and part of the Band later metamorphosed into the five piece Punk Band, initially called 'Dole Q', who shortly after changed their name to 'The SKUNKS', which JJ also briefly performed with and played the legendary ROXY CLUB in Covent Garden, London, and the Band played various other punk venues around the country.

Cover of fanzine, Ericas Hang-Up
Cover of Fanzine, Ericas Hang-Up

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Electric Chairs Discography

Electric Chairs videos

Early Days
1976
Sex Pistols

Electric Chairs First release
Jubilee soundtrack
Erics
Reading Festival 77
Safari Records

First LP
Storm the gates of Heaven
Punk Rock movie
Things Your mother Never told you
John Peel Session
So Many Ways
Re-releases

Home

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Music Stack
All these records are obtainable at musicstack.com

 

By late 1976, PUNK had started to explode on to the British scene, in all it's adrenal, amphetamine, gobbing, pogoing glory, led mainly by bands like the one and only SEX PISTOLS , THE CLASH , and THE DAMNED etc in the south, and THE BUZZCOCKS among others in the north, blowing away the directionless, so called "progressive music" era of the early and middle 1970's.

Johnny with the green suede teeth
JJ recalls

'My first exposure to The Pistols was in the late summer of '76 at one of the Lyceum All-nighter gigs in London (Bizarrely with the 60's band The Pretty Things! among others on the bill). The place was packed with hippies and rock fans all sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening to support bands and applauding politely whilst Malcolm McLaren played ringmaster over the PA system in between bands, hyping up the crowd in expectation for this
' Great new Club sensation, The Sex Pistols'
who were topping the bill at the gig.

I made my way to the toilet and was confronted by this strange vision of a humanoid in a metallic blue Teddy Boy Jacket with one sleeve held together at the shoulder with safety pins, drainpipe trousers and brothel creeper shoes, looking like he had three days to live with green suede teeth.

It was Johnny Rotten (Lydon). Shortly after the Sex Pistols hit the stage with pure raw energy and deafening volume supported by a small contingent of pogoing bondage wearing punks at the front of the stage.

The Hippies and Rock fans started to flee, looking shell-shocked and confused through a gauntlet of normally aggressive huge bouncers dressed in tuxedos who were apologising to the retreating audience saying, "We are really sorry about this, we won't book the band again! Please accept the apologies of Mecca Ballrooms'. followed by the immortal line, 'I can't see this band getting anywhere.'

Within 10 -15 minutes a 1500 strong crowd was reduced to 50 people, a surreal sight and a brilliant moment........ '

"Punk had arrived".

 

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Ot Now Fanzine
OUT NOW FANZINE

With PUNK came the invasion of American bands and acts like THE RAMONES, JOHNNY THUNDERS AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, IGGY POP, BLONDIE, TALKING HEADS, JONATHAN RICHMAN AND THE MODERN LOVERS, CHERRY VANILLA,etc.. At this point, WAYNE, later JAYNE COUNTY and guitarist GREG VAN COOK arrived in London from NEW YORK looking to form a punk rock & roll band. They met up with British bass player VAL HALLER in ROUGH TRADE record shop in the Portobello road area of London, which was then a meeting place for future punk luminaries, and was one of the few outlets for punk music at that time. WAYNE and GREG were also looking for a drummer to complete the line up of the band. As VAL had been sharing a squat in a dilapidated gothic mansion in the middle of Kensington, SW7 with J.J. who had sat in on drums occasionally with another band that VAL had co-formed called The Rockets which later split and evolved into Ladbroke Grove band, Warsaw Pact. J.J.was then asked to team up with Wayne, Greg and Val.

After playing various mad rehearsals and a couple of brilliantly near psychotic gigs, the first of which was on the same bill as a very young SQUEEZE , who had recently signed to B.T.M. RECORDS, and then later to A&M RECORDS.

The Electric Chairs

Photo taken at the Marquee Club Dressing Room, May 25th 1977

The Electric Chairs
Left to Right:
Johnson, County, Van Cook, Haller

It soon became apparent to Wayne and the band during these gigs and from the way the sound, style, attitude, and energy was developing within the band that the appropriate name to call themselves would be,

THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS.


 

 

 

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