Johnny Bennett, born John R. Hollingsworth on September 25, 1976, was raised in Muncie, Indiana also known as Middletown USA. His mother is an editor and songwriter and his father is a physician. Johnny is the ‘middle kid’ with an older brother who works in graphic design and a younger sister who is an environmental writer and poet. There was a strong sense of artistry growing up in this family and he had numerous advantages and opportunities that allowed him to follow his calling. This was not a childhood of struggle and hardship. Johnny’s struggles would come later in life and in waves.
Music was always playing in Bennett’s house hold and the age of seven Johnny first became greatly attached to music through his first instrument, the flute. “I think I enjoyed the flute because I could tell very quickly that I had talent and people responded to it. It’s natural as a young kid to gravitate towards what gets praise.” Through 7 years of private instruction, summers at fine arts schools, including Blue Lake and North Carolina School of the Arts, Johnny was getting pretty good and receiving perfect scores at state level concerto competitions. “At about sixteen I think I realized, knowing what I was up against, that I didn’t have what it took to be a principle flute player in a national orchestra or even less likely that I could be a featured performer on the world stage in the classical world”.
From a young age Johnny knew that he could sing and had a voice. It took an exit from his classical background and several years of slowly teaching himself to play the guitar for that voice to have a platform. It was during his last year in high school and in his first year at college in Vermont when he began his early attempts at writing. For some the process of writing comes with ease. It was a longer road for Bennett to find his centre of focus. Bennett’s move to California from Vermont after his first year of college was the catalyst that set him on his path. During his first year in California Johnny began what was a long series of forming and dissolving bands, living in San Francisco and touring up and down the West Coast. These were really Bennett’s first tastes of failure in music. It was 7 years of spinning wheels, learning, and an endless series of moves back and forth cross-country, stints in Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana and then back to California time and time again. “I just couldn’t sit still to save my life in my 20’s; it was all just a constant blur with very little achieved”.
If not for the help and guidance of key individuals including his family, Thomas Hughes, Matt Stamos, Marcus Buick, Edward Koehler, Jeff Forney and countless others Bennett would not have begun recording. “These friends kept me alive really and saved me from my own dishonesty, disgrace, corruption and general demise.” These are the stories of drugs, alcohol and generally looking at life from the underside of things. The blood, sweat and tears of becoming something.
It was the move to Los Angeles in 2000 that changed Bennett’s direction in music for good and defined his current point of view. Most of Johnny’s skill and raw approach to song writing came from working as a street performer in Los Angeles. These years of ‘working it out’ lead to opportunities to work and learn from some amazing songwriters and producers including Chris Julian, Jeff O’Rourke, Peter Foldy, Ali Nikou and Sean Dever. These individuals were a major element in informing Bennett’s song writing along with the endless set of artists and music in many genres that Johnny is influenced by.
Soon after his move to Los Angeles Johnny met two individuals, Derek Jones and Bryan Beasley, that would play a major role in allowing Johnny to begin producing his solo efforts. Bryan Beasley has been a constant supporter and has delivered on so many levels to help Johnny stay in the game. Derek Jones is Johnny’s long-time business partner and they co-own their independent label, False Momentum, which has been the vehicle for the release of Johnny’s work. “Jones has been an incredible friend and mentor for me and I would not have accomplished anything without him.”
Along comes Suanne. Johnny met Suanne Gray in late 2005 and they have been attached at the hip ever since. Suanne has been Johnny’s partner in crime and very much the love of his life. She is the primary muse for his recent recordings and his love for her shows honestly in these songs. If there is one person that has really changed Bennett’s outlook on his career and pushed him to greatness it is she. “My sweet Suanne, I can’t remember or see a life without her, and why would I want too?”
Suanne and Johnny relocated to Nashville, TN in 2006 and that move led to Johnny’s partnership with producer Duane Lundy. This new mentor and friend really took the lead in creating a backdrop and vision for what would become Johnny’s 2009 release, The Violet Hush. Duane had a very clear eye on what he wanted to accomplish with Bennett’s voice and general direction in the studio. What resulted was Bennett’s first real shot with a contending project. Although this was Johnny’s fourth full-length album it was very much his debut. The Violet Hush was and is a huge success artistically for Johnny and all involved and led to major air play, US and UK tours and a series of spot on reviews and high praise from media.
In late 2009 Johnny, Duane and a very talented set of musicians made the trip to London, England to record the follow-up to The Violet Hush titled Gone Missing. Recording in England was this dreamlike experience for Bennett and has delivered his second in his series of timeless classic rock influenced releases. For the last year Johnny has been pushing for Gone Missing’s release. This is a dark album with elements of indie rock, soul, and sparsely produced numbers that suit Bennett’s voice and style. “I’m so proud of this album, I worked tirelessly to get it cut and there are moments on this project that I never thought possible in my life.”
In comes Blue Pie Records to save the day. Johnny has recently signed on with the Australian Label Blue Pie Records. This new relationship is finally allowing Johnny to take his music to the world marketplace. It took a long time to find and label that truly believes in what Johnny is trying to accomplish with his music and Blue Pie is a perfect fit to represent Johnny’s brand. “These guys are aggressive, knowledgeable, and wicked cool. They do what they mean and mean what they do, no bullshit.” Bennett is currently gearing up for UK and US tours in 2012 along with the production of the follow-up to Gone Missing titled 40 Love. His latest single has also featured on blockbuster movie “Don’t pass Me By”.
Johnny Bennett is part of the Blue Pie Family of Artists. For More Information on Blue Pie, please visit www.bluepie.com.au
Blue Pie Records USA LLC
Unit 20 No.112 McEvoy St,
Alexandria NSW 2015
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