Johnny Day ~ A name from the past.
After I posted an old picture of my pop days I did promise I would tell you all about it, well here it is...My Autobiography
A look at the life and times of Johnny Day, a child of the 60s
- It all started a long long time ago
- The early days of wine and roses
- The crazy times of the 60s
- Then the big break came and Johnny grabbed it with both hands
- After the first hit the band made number one again
- TV Radio and Recording studios, the sweet smell of success
- I thought I was going to be ill
- A solo career beckons with yet another turn in Johnny's life
- Returning to home ground
- Time to concentrate on Writing
- Be somebody and write for Wikinut,
It all started a long long time ago
Born on 26 June 1942 Johnny Day started his musical career at the age of five, taking piano lessons with a Miss Johns in Arundel road Littlehampton, he recalls even at that tender age he would often be reprimanded with a smack on the hands with a ruler for “Jazzing up” Mozart and Rachmaninov, although he did learn to read music he would often revert to playing from memory with the addition of course of his own interpretation on the Written work.
His music lessons continued via various tutors until when at the age of eleven, when during a gym exercise at school a smashed elbow put a sudden stop; to any more piano instructions, he was rushed off to hospital where a number of bone splinters were removed.
While at his secondary school he joined the school skiffle group called the “Rockets” the group would often play at local events playing a mixture of skiffle and rock and roll numbers, as a piano was a bit awkward to lag around, he took to playing the “Tea chest Double bass” the groups top achievement was winning a Local talent content at the “Pavilion” on the sea front in Littlehampton with a rendition of “A white sports coat (and a Pink Carnation)" an old Marty Robbins song from 1957.
The early days of wine and roses
Still at school Johnny would often attend the local Labour club with his friend Frank Sumner where he would play the piano or the drums during the half time Bingo break, After leaving school at the tender age of fifteen Johnny continued to entertain on the piano at local pubs around the area, he and Frank formed a comedy duo called Frankie & Johnny and performed at local village halls along with a company of amateur artists.
In the meantime Frank had taken on the challenge as a manager for a pop group from Worthing called “The Mystics” Frank persuaded Johnny to get a organ so he could join the group, not having too much money of his own Johnny convinced his father that this was what he wanted and although his father was no fan of Johnny’s musical career he wanted Johnny to get “A proper job” with a pension he gave in to his sons plea’s and so Johnny joined “The Mystics”
The group now called “The Swinging Saxons” went on working from gig to gig including the labour club where Johnny had performed while still at school, before very long that small town group turned professional to enable them to travel to France and Germany working on American air force camps.
This was to prove a great success for the group making, a year later another return to Germany, while in France Johnny picked up a little of the language enough to introduce the band each time they played outside from the Air force base, the same thing happened in Germany, he seemed to find languages easy to pick up, however on the first night in Germany when he introduced the band he wondered why there were so many puzzled looks in the audience only to discover he had done the whole thing in French.
The crazy times of the 60s
Shortening their name to simply “The Saxons” the group returned home from Germany to continue playing in venues all over Britain, including the Iron door club in Birmingham, and several Butlins holiday camps, as was the thing in those days, groups would often “cherry pick” members from other groups and Johnny was no exception, he would often “Stand in for group members who for one reason or another failed to turn up for a gig including standing in for the organist from “Beau Brummell and the nobleman” , a year later Johnny joined a Brighton group “The Giants” for a short period, and finally “The Trekkers”
Then the big break came and Johnny grabbed it with both hands
During a gig with the Trekkers at “The Top Hat Ballroom” in Littlehampton Johnny was approached by an agent for a Norwegian Group call "The Vanguards"
This was to be the “Big break for Johnny, it was now 1966 and “The Vanguards” were just about to record a disc called “Mot ukjent sted” ( An unknown place) but the song needed an organ, within two weeks of being released the record hit the top ten and in the third week reached the number one spot on the Norwegian charts, it stayed in the charts for many weeks.
After the first hit the band made number one again
The group entered the charts once again with the release of the groups second record Lykkevein (Lucky Road) once more reaching the number one spot.
Johnny began to build up quite a following so much so that he and the other members of the band were unable to venture out on their own for fear of being mobbed, as it was, Johnny was often pulled from the stage, one time during a rendition of “Everybody needs somebody” Johnny ended up with torn jackets and the shirt ripped right off him.
TV Radio and Recording studios, the sweet smell of success
The Group made numerous TV appearances and their picture was often featured in newspapers Johnny made two television adverts a film for Norwegian TV and starred on a couple or radio programs, he was often seen in the company of Norwegian film stars, The Vanguards made a trip to London to cut their third album when they arrived at the studios there was a band already using the studios before them so the boy were allowed to wait in the mixing room, the band they were waiting for was called “The Spencer Davis Group” and the song being recorded at the time was “Keep on running”
I thought I was going to be ill
Soon it was there time to record, the session went very well and the third album was born, after the session the group along with pop star Millie (My boy The Spencer Davis Group) Small made a visit to a small London club where Johnny was introduced to George Harrison from “The Beatles” Johnny was quoted as saying “My heart was beating so fast, I thought I would be ill”
A solo career beckons with yet another turn in Johnny's life
Returning from a summer tour of Sweden Johnny left the Vanguards to strike out on his own, he formed a group call “The Daymen” his first solo single “I want you to be my Baby” never achieved the heights of the Vanguards success, and he quickly decided a solo singing career was not for him, he took up an offer to become a disc jockey and MC
This was to be almost a second coming for Johnny, he became very well known as a DJ appearing all over Scandinavia often billed as “The top DJ of Northern Europe, he ended up with three clubs of his own in and around Oslo.
In 1970 he broke the world record for "non stop disk jockeying" only to have it broken two weeks later by an American DJ.
He met many stars of the time including Benny Anderson from Abba, Millie Small, the Jackson five and many more but according to him one of the highlight of his career was to appear as the master of ceremonies with “Bill Healy and the Comets”
He made many radio appearances in Oslo now fluent in Norwegian with an understanding of Swedish, Icelandic French and German and wishing to “quit while still at the top” Johnny took the next step in his career.
Returning to home ground
Johnny returned to England and duly found a large Victorian house in Littlehampton Johnny was invited to the BBC for an interview to be a presenter, however he decided radio work was not for him and was hired to work as a DJ at a club in Rustington, within a year he gave up show business, turning down an offer to re-launch “The Saxons” seeking work in a local dry cleaners in Littlehampton and then later at a laundry as the dry cleaning manager, it was there where he was to meet his wife Christine, Johnny and Christine were married at the Worthing registry office on 27th October 1972. and are still married today, just about to celebrate their 40th. wedding anniversary.
Time to concentrate on Writing
In 2001 a good friend of Johnny's the well known BBC pop presenter and author, Mike Read wrote a book called “The South coast beat scene of the 1960” in which Johnny was featured, the book recalls just how it was in those heady days on the 1960s
Johnny now concentrates on writing children's story's under his name johnnydod he is hoping to get his first book published before his 70th birthday.
~ All pictures are the property of Johnnydod
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