I WAS 14 in 1954 when my family moved from Texas to Massachusetts, where I discovered Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg and Joe Smith, disc jockeys who mixed doo wop with rock & roll and street-level rhythm & blues. I began collecting singles in pursuit of their mysteries.
I was a white kid going to a mostly-white high school. We didn't have a TV set and singles came in generic jackets, so I was surprised to learn that most of the artists I liked were Black.
One of the first rock & roll albums I bought was Here's Little Richard, yellow-orange and cover, Richard full face, mid-scream. That album still thrills me and I credit it with teaching me how to hear music. Richard himself was high voltage, but his New Orleans band cooked like a thousand watts.
We moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Radio was less alluring, though there were glimmers like Art Laboe, Hunter Hancock and Huggy Boy. I went to college, majored in English Lit. Saw Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Fats Domino, Ike & Tina Turner in local Black clubs.
Started at the Los Angeles Times as a copyboy. After a time I graduated to reporter trainee working the police beat and City Room. My father, a journalist, suggested that I introduce myself to the Entertainment Editor. The editor assigned me a music review. I didn't know how to write a review and my first was clumsy, but it was published. A month later he sent me on me another and this time I found my balance.
That was in 1965. Soon the editor hired me as a reviewer and assistant editor. I wrote a million reviews and 500,000 interviews during the next several years. In 1968 KHJ contracted me to write "The History of Rock & Roll." The Times kept me on payroll but when the show aired in 1969 I was burned out. A few months later I left the Times for Warner Bros. Records.
I had a variety of jobs at WBR for 17 years, then bounced around, then went to Apple in 1992. I was there about 11 years, mostly writing, editing, managing writers and coding websites.
Now I'm retired, living in San Jose, California, listening to music, reading novels, walking our greyhounds and playing on the computer.
List of articles in the library by artist
Profile and Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 December 1967
WHAT FOLLOWS is an exorbitant number of words about and from an insignificant recording artist named Van Dyke Parks. He is insignificant at the moment, ...
Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 3 March 1968
Aretha Just Keeps Rolling Along ...
Report and Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 15 September 1966
JAMES BROWN, who will appear at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert Friday night, has built up a 10-year momentum which catapulted him out of ...
Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 27 April 1968
'New' Byrds Make Bow at Troubadour ...
Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 13 March 1969
Neil Young Featured in Show at Troubadour ...
Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 1969
A RATHER unusual album froze me between my loudspeakers one late night last week and, though I am not sure it is entertainment and would ...
Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 25 February 1968
Love's Third Album Out on Elektra ...
Profile by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 18 March 1966
THEY RADIATE a complete spectrum of Pop haberdashery — odd vests, coats of varying cuts, one or two neckties, assorted shirts and a miscellany of ...
Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 20 November 1966
S and G Sing of Sly Sociology ...
back to LIBRARY