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February 2016

Jeannie Pawlowski, Writer Interviews

Johnny Patterson II - Veteran Bassist, Audio Engineer & Official Photographer of the Global Black Sabbath Convention


Johnny Patterson II (wearing Black Sabbath cross) in his studio


INTRODUCTION

Veteran bassist Johnny Patterson II is the ‘Official Photographer’ and will also MC at the Global Black Sabbath Convention on February 24 at Slake Concert Hall in NYC.

Having performed and or recorded with some of the giants of music: Billy Idol, Curtis Knight, Michael Powers, Otis Blackwell and Les Paul amongst others, he also had his own rock bands: Panther and Black Tulip who opened for the Dictators at a couple gigs in the 70's. He was also in Midnite Gypsies with Niki Buzz, his previous bands were Sun, Vendetta and M80, among others. M80 featured Don Costa, one of Ozzy's solo career Bassists. He even got to jam with Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford of King Crimson. As a child, Johnny studied acting at the Hudson Guild Community Center. The troupe later went on to found the Roundabout Theater, which took over the RKO Theater on 23rd St for several years. They exist to this day. In his teens, Johnny played Ice Hockey, playing 3 games at Madison Square Garden in a league sponsored by the NY Rangers. Johnny gradually made the transition from sports to music.


MusicRealms:

What inspired you to choose your career as an artist-musician? Can you tell us about that?


Johnny Patterson II:

I would have to say that seeing someone I jammed with: Dennis Davis (George Benson, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, etc.) make it to the big time. That showed me that anything was possible if you worked hard enough at the task. I grew up in a very musical family and neighborhood in Chelsea NYC. Living in the shadows of Madison Square Garden and within a short distance of many venues, I saw a lot of bands growing up. Many concerts inspired me to get better on my instrument, so that I could perform at such a level. I created a video of photos from the Chelsea neighborhood from the 40's to present, with childhood friend and guitarist, Richard Belmond. I wrote two smooth-jazz songs to go along with the video. Once mixed, a possible DVD will be produced.


MusicRealms:

You have played with a wide variety of performers, including a show with Bernie Worrell, keyboardist of Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, amongst other artists of note. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame described the pioneering band Parliament/Funkadelic as “virtually defining the melting pot known as funk – a melding of R&B, Jazz, Gospel and Psychedelic Rock.” Can you describe your experience playing with someone as influential as Bernie Worrell?


Johnny Patterson II:

It was kind of surreal actually. Bernie played a set with a funk band I was in, at a big wedding reception for our manager. It was at the Cotton Club in Harlem. He got there very early and was very friendly and so full of life. At sound check, he was playing all those great bass-lines on his keyboard, like the one in Flashlight, which had recently come out. He played synth for the set without any rehearsal. Great player! I had previously been in a short lived band with Tyrone Lampkin, one of the original Parliament/Funkadelic drummers.


MusicRealms:

You have played with Curtis Knight, best known for his musical connection to Jimi Hendrix. The recordings Hendrix made with Knight and the Squires in the 60’s were released on Capitol Records after he achieved superstardom with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. How did you fall into playing bass with Curtis Knight and when did this take place?


Johnny Patterson II with Curtis Knight, Tribute to Jimi Hendrix Pic: Irene Ching
Johnny Patterson II:

Curtis was managing Niki Buzz, (Sun, Vendetta, M80) and myself, and did very well by us. After some Tri-State area shows, he got us a gig at the Hippodrome in London, which sold out - and is one of my most memorable gigs. We got a worldwide deal with CBS, but were dropped before our LP ever came out. We went by the name Midnite Gypsies, a nod to Jimi Hendrix Band Of Gypsies. Around this time, 1987, Curtis wanted to get back into singing again, and we recorded an LP with him "Eyes Upon The Sky" and toured Germany the following year. We recorded a live album on that tour as well. Curtis had a cosmic connection with Jimi that he spoke of often. He had some great stories to tell. I am spoken about in a book about Curtis called ‘Curtis Knight, Living In The Shadow Of Jimi Hendrix’.


MusicRealms:

Having played in superstar Billy Idol’s band, I’m sure our readers would love to know how that happened and what it was like playing with one of the most iconic performers of rock. His breakout was in the Punk genre but Billy managed to cross over into the mainstream, and is still considered a heart-throb and megastar. Please tell us how you wound up in that music situation and what it was like working with such a highly regarded artist.


Johnny Patterson II:
L-R: John Taylor, Billy Idol, Johhny Patterson II, Stevie Stevens, Andy Taylor Photo: Irene Ching, Limelight

I was in a band I had co-founded named Panther at the time. We played many NY area shows at the time. I got a call from Jean Beauvoir (Plasmatics, Voodoo X, Crown Of Thorns, etc.) I was his road manager and soundman when he first went solo after the Plasmatics. He told me to show up for a rehearsal with a band that was playing at the Limelight that upcoming Valentines Day. It would be fronted by Perri Lister, Billy's girlfriend at the time. When I got to the rehearsal, it ended up being Billy's band with the addition of Mars Williams on sax and Kasim Sultan on keyboards. We had several rehearsals and Billy was at all of them. The band sounded great. There were a few combinations of bands that night, one with John & Andy Taylor, then of Power Station, pairing with Thommy Price & Steve Stevens, with Billy on vocals. The night of the show Billy decides that he wanted me to play with him as well. Things went well and Billy called me to play a couple of area shows after that. This was while the Whiplash Smile LP was being recorded, and he wanted to stay sharp, playing locally. Unfortunately, I never got to do a proper tour with the band but enjoyed playing and hanging out with them. It was a great experience. I recently met up with the band after 25 years in Atlantic City, and Steve got me into the sold out show.


MusicRealms:

I understand you have also performed with legend Les Paul – to whom the world owes a tremendous debt for his musical innovations with the guitar. He is also highly regarded for his own unbelievable playing chops. Les Paul performed into his 90’s fairly regularly at the Iridium in NYC. Please fill us in on your experience working with the music giant Les Paul.


Johnny Patterson II:
Midnight Gypies (his band) promo pic for tour of Germany Pic: Bruce Kenyon

While in Midnite Gypsies, we were headlining a Jimi Hendrix birthday celebration concert at 1018 club in Manhattan, a huge place that used to be Roxy Roller Rink. The gig featured Rick Derringer, Les Paul, Rick Frank, Richie Havens, Clem Burke, Chris Spedding, and many others. Solo performers like Les showed up without a band, and as Midnite Gypsies was the house band as well as doing our own set, we ended up playing with Les. He was class personified. I had to pinch myself that I was even in the same room with this living legend. An unforgettable night.


MusicRealms:

Did you do any recordings with the above musicians? What are the titles if so?


Johnny Patterson II:

Curtis Knight - Eyes Upon The Sky (LP) Curtis Knight - Live In Germany (LP) Midnite Gypsies - Girl From Ipanema - Single, Michael Powers Band. And Otis Blackwell who wrote songs for Elvis Presley.


MusicRealms:

Are there any outstanding gigs you have played that you want to share with our readers?


Johnny Patterson II:

Midnite Gypsies at Hippodrome, in London - Billy Idol at Ritz NYC - Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert 1018 Club NYC - Curtis Knight, Koln Germany


MusicRealms:

You are now a musician/producer/audio engineer. What kinds of music are you currently creating?


Johnny Patterson II:

I am currently creating some heavy rock songs as well as doing a blues project.


MusicRealms:

Who are you working with? And is there a way to access your music, whether thru recordings or online?


Johnny Patterson II:

I am working again with Niki Buzz. I am in the mixing stages with 8 songs recorded thus far. Niki lives in Amsterdam, so we do everything via the internet, between his busy touring schedule. I will be putting up new music on our Facebook page, Midnite Gypsies. Also on my music page Black Tulip, and also on Reverbnation. At this point, not sure if I will be selling any music or just putting it up for the joy of people hearing my creations.


MusicRealms:

As a veteran bassist of multiple genres, you are also designated as the ‘Official Photographer’ and MC of the February 24, 2016 Global Black Sabbath Convention in NYC. You have covered Black Sabbath musically, and we have seen some of your photographs of Black Sabbath, which have been used by the band itself on their own page. How did you wind up hooking with the GBSC folks?


JP at Trax, playing with his band Panther Irene Ching, photographer
Johnny Patterson II:

I grew up listening to and playing Black Sabbath's music. I was looking at some Black Sabbath groups on Facebook and met Ben Fahl and Dave Davis on one of the group sites. They told me that they had an idea to take groups to another level and so I was an original member the moment the page was launched. We are a group that actually meets each other in real life, off the internet. That is the magic that I really enjoy. Being that I shot a few shows: Into The Void (a NY area Black Sabbath tribute band that also headlines the show this year) and they were playing the first Global Black Sabbath Convention, I volunteered to shoot that first convention.





MusicRealms:

As someone with a rare combination of musical skills what advice would you give to aspiring musicians?


Johnny Patterson II:

This may be the toughest question you asked. Coming up in the 70's, it was so much easier to gig and it seemed everyone wanted to play music back then. I always had a loft, so if clubs didn't want me, I would have shows in my loft. It paid the rent. These days, clubs want you to pay to play unless you have a following that you can prove. That being said, my advice would be to set defined goals for yourself and your band. Stick to them and never sell yourself short. Use social media to build a following but be ready to back it up with great live shows.


Learn the business side of things so you don't lose your shirt if you do end up signing any type of deal. If possible, record and distribute yourself first, don't wait for someone to want you and your band. That is a definite possibility in today's internet world. Just bear in mind...


"There used to be hundreds of bands, selling millions of records. Now there are millions of bands, selling hundreds of records."


One other story I would like to add … While living at 251 West 30 in the late 70's, I received a call from an engineer at Daily Planet Studios, which was in the basement of the building. He knew me from recording there and also the fact that I was in a Jazz-Fusion band (Montage) at the time. He told me that he had set up an audition for me in a couple of hours with a band looking for a bass player. The band was King Crimson. I went downstairs at the appointed time and met Robert Fripp & Bill Bruford. We played a couple of things they had prepared. They were mostly looking to see if I could play odd time signatures. I did not get the gig, but it was a great experience. They said I had a nice feel to my playing and they left me with a renewed confidence. The lesson I learned was to always be ready, as you never know when the break of a lifetime will come.


I would like to give a shout out to my Bass Tech and lifelong friend Ray Steimel. Thanks for everything!


MusicRealms would like to thank Johnny Patterson II for taking time to speak with us.


Social Media Links

The New Song By Black Tulip Johnny Patterson II - Bass, Vocals, Drums & Keys
Niki Buzz - Lead And Rhythm Guitars
Battle For Your Soul

My new CD BATTLE FOR YOUR SOUL Is available on Pay Pal, send $7 to jpatter1@optonline.net
Send me your confirmation and address. THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT! (No Account Needed) Please choose send money, NOT PURCHASE)


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