The writing of “Johnny Boy” began during an annual writing excursion the team takes to Gulf Shores, Alabama. On December 12, 2014, in the tiring last hours of their drive to the coast, they received a disturbing call that longtime friend and Ardent Studios co-owner/producer, John Hampton, had passed away in Memphis. Astonished and shaken, Vicki and Van sat down that evening with a guitar; the night beach sky as their companion helped the song flow out in a grieving tribute to their friend. Their first day back in Memphis, another shock: Ardent Studios founder John Fry, another good friend, also died on December 18th. The entire Memphis musical community was devastated, having lost two giants in 6 days. Mournfully, “Johnny Boy” transcended into a tribute to both men.
This July, Loveland Duren went into Ardent’s Studio A and recorded the tracks for the song with Hampton and Fry protege/engineer Adam Hill. Three veteran Memphis players came in to make the session even more magical and powerful: Sam Shoup on bass and fretless bass solo; Earl Lowe on drums; Jim Spake on soprano saxophone, with Vicki on vocals and congas and Van on vocals and guitars. In eleven hours, over two days, the song was recorded and mixed. On the third day, the recording was made complete by Grammy winning Mastering Engineer Brad Blackwood of Euphonic Masters. The ethereal beauty of the music and vocals cannot be understated; there is a feel that immediately draws you in – and how could it not?
“Johnny Boy” is another step on a creative journey that began with the exquisite musical sculptures and lyrical elegance of Bloody Cupid. The song is an homage to Mr. Fry and Mr. Hampton, certainly, but it’s also a reflection on getting older, facing the consequences of lifestyle choices—and of coming to terms with our own mortality.
Listen to this song and let it settle deep into your mind, heart and soul. Because that’s where this music comes from.
“Johnny Boy” will be available for download from iTunes and Amazon on September 1st, 2015