Category Archives: Road Stories

Touring and Recording Brief History

Danny was discovered at age 19 by Rick Derringer, who upon seeing young Danny perform, made him an offer to tour, write and record. They did 4 records together. Then Danny played for Axis (R.C.A.), Rod Stewart then approached Danny, They wrote played and toured on the “Passion” tour which spawned the release of Tonight I’m yours. At this time Danny was also involved with Alice Cooper and his band Special Forces. Eddie Van Halen was quoted in Guitar Player magazine as saying “My favorite guitarist is Danny Johnson”. Van Halen backed this statement up by asking Danny to play in a band he was recording called PRIVATE LIFE. Danny did 2 albums with them, and two major tours opening up for Van Halen. Then Danny was asked to fill the shoes of guitar greats Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai as the guitarist for Alcatrazz with one of rocks greatest voices, Graham Bonnet. He wrote, recorded and toured on Alcatrazz’s Dangerous Games album, and wrote the title track. When Graham Bonnet put out his masterpiece solo CD “Underground”, Danny wrote, produced and played guitar for his friend. Originally from Louisiana, Danny moved to Nashville when John Kay and Steppenwolf came calling. See his Discography here.

Touring and recording has turned Danny into a seasoned professional. Known for his crunching guitar riffs, soulful voice, and true honest conviction when he performs. His solo release “Grih Grih thing”, which was released in 1997, will soon be available in Europe. “Over Cloud Nine” brought Danny worldwide attention. Danny brings in former band mate Rick Derringer on “House of the Rising Sun”, and his former band mates from the Rod Stewart band, Carmine Appice and Jay Davis also Leo Lyons of Ten Years After and Richard Young of Kentucky Headhunters are on the CD as well.

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The ‘dirtier-sounding’ Band with Stewart – 1981

Stewart’s got a ‘dirtier-sounding’ Refurbished Band

– By KURT LODER (1981)

“A couple of the English boys that were in the band didn’t wanna come over and work,” explains drummer Carmine Appice. So In January, Rod Stewart’s backup group got a sudden transfusion of new blood: replacing Gary Grainger and bassist Ph1l Chen were two young Southerners, Danny Johnson and Jay Davis.

Both had previously been Involved with Carmine’s drum-playing brother Vinny Appice, In a power trio called Axis; and both were currently members of Carmine’s own little side group, The Rockers, with whom he was recording his first solo album for Stewart’s Riva Records. Rod dropped by the studio one day and so dug their sound that he drafted them into his own band.

“You know what he did?” Appice says. “He’s got, without exaggeration, like half a million dollars worth of cars, O.K.? He moved all the cars out of the garage, had the roadies put up some red-and-gold curtains from the last American tour, put a red rug down and turned it into a rehearsal studio. Yesterday he brought the video camera in.”

An appreciative chuckle. “I think the material’s gonna be a lot dirtier-sounding now,” says Carmine. “Danny’s gonna add that real young-rock-guitarist high energy, and Jay just locks right on the grooves with me. It’s so much easier to play with this band, you know?”

The refurbished Stewart group will back the singer on his U.S. tour, scheduled to start in mid-July; in some cities, the Rockers will step out and play local gigs. By then, record stores should be plentifully stocked with both a live Stewart album (mostly recorded in London last December) and a Carmine Appice solo LP (which also features Alice Cooper’s keyboardist, Duane Hitchings). Grizzled fans of Vanilla Fudge and Beck, Bogert and Appice will happily note that Carmine sings on his album.


(Anchorage Dally News, Saturday, March 21, 1981 – G5)

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Axis in 1978

Axis is a new band with a definite future

By JOHN CRISPINO (1978)
AXIS: CIRCUS WORLD (RCA Records)

Every now and then there will be an album put out that is a rock ‘n roll fan’s delight. Well, it’s here. The album is “Circus World.” The band is called Axis. The name may not ring: a bell yet – but watch out. The three members of this band are young, full of energy, and extremely talented. They are Vinny Appice on drums, Danny Johnson on guitar and vocals, and Jay Davis on bass and vocals. For those of you who follow rock closely, you probably know that Appice and Johnson were the main force behind the past Rick Derringer band and Davis was the original bass player for the now super group Foreigner. The album was produced by Andy John who has produced albums for Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, and Rod Stewart.

“Circus World” starts off with “Brown Eyes,” Axis’ soon·to·be·released single, and maintains an incredible amount of power and versatility until the very end. If you’re a musician, you’ll be impressed by the way each member has mastered his instrument; if you’re just a rock lover, try to keep your foot from tapping through “Cats in the Alley.” The band is on tour now and should be in this area very soon. When they get here don’t miss their show. Until then, check out the album and see for yourself that this band has a definite future. More important is that you’re going to love it to death.

Songs are Brown Eyes, Busted Love, Juggler, Soldier of Love, Train, Armageddon, Ray’s Electric Farm, Stormy Weather. Cats in the Alley, Bandits of Rock, and Circus World.

(Beaver County (Pa.) Times – Wednesday, Decemuer 6, 1978 B-5)

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Danny Johnson – Early On

Blade asks Danny Johnson, “How did you arrive to where you are today in your career?”

Boy! Heh, I hope I’m not getting graded cause I don’t know how to answer that, cause its too many, its so many steps. Its like, Blade, its like Aerosmith when someone said to Joe Perry, or was it Fleetwood Mac, when they were having their major successes, “Wow, you guys are doing really great, you’re so big, and you must feel great.” And, he said, “We’ve seen every step of the way.” In other words, that question has happened in increments.

If you’re asking when my lucky break was, I would say it was when Rick Derringer came down and I had this band Axis, which was Jay Davis who went on to Rod Stewart for seven years, and Vinny Appice who went on to Black Sabbath. In other words, three out of three guys in the band had pretty successful careers in the music business. So, Rick Derringer was looking for a drummer and we had just signed on Vinny Appice. Now, we didn’t have a record deal going on or anything, we were in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we did gigs on the weekend and whenever we could. And so, when Rick Derringer had his success with his solo record, it was kind of a chart buster and he was looking to put a band together. He heard Vinny play, and you know, Vinney’s an incredible drummer, and John Lennon had just used Vinney on some stuff with a John Lennon and Yoko Ono thing. Vinney had disappeared from New York City, so when Rick went looking for him, he found him down at my house. And so, basically, I answered the phone, “Hello?” Rick said, “Hey, this is Rick, I was looking for Vinney Appice.” I said, “Well, he’s not here right now. Rick who?” He said, “Rick Derringer.” I said, “Oh! I know who you are.” And, you know, that was my first talk with a famous person, anything other than, you know, outside the ballpark of just small town things. But, I think without sounding conceited, Axis and the people in it were…. Ahh…. You know people talk about lucky breaks, I learned in New York City that, and they even told me, you know my manager, I was managed by some people who managed Aerosmith, and some others, they said, “Don’t use the word ‘Lucky Break’ in this city.” You kind of make success. You know what I’m saying? You don’t wait at all for a lucky break.

You see there’s that thing when you ask me one question and I give you 10 answers but not the one you asked for.

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