Damon Johnson Left Alice Cooper to Play with Thin Lizzy; Here's Why

Categories: Q&A

Courtesy of MIM
Damon Johnson
The name Damon Johnson may not ring a bell automatically, even if you are a hardcore rock 'n' roll fan. But this Alabama-bred guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has been a part of rock's favorite acts. His band, Brother Cane, released three albums and two number one singles on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, as well as toured with Van Halen, Aerosmith, Robert Plant and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In 2006, he was a part of the country music group Whiskey Falls and then was hired as a guitarist for Alice Cooper for two stints, from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2009 to 2011. He contributed songwriting and guitar duties to Sammy Hagar, Stevie Nicks, Ted Nugent, Carlos Santana, and Faith Hill and has released two solo albums, with one featuring a duet with his daughter and a guest appearance by Alice Cooper on the harmonica and vocals.

But in September 2011, Johnson was given the opportunity of his lifetime.

As a longtime Thin Lizzy fan, he was asked to join the band as full-time guitarist. At that point though, the last lineup of the legendary band decided to record new material under a different name, sort of like the "next evolution of Thin Lizzy."

So Thin Lizzy alumni Ricky Warwick (guitar, vocals), Johnson (guitar), Marco Mendoza (bass) and the addition of drummer Jimmy Degrasso (Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Suicidal Tendency) decided to found Black Star Riders. The band released its debut album in 2013, and the response from old Thin Lizzy fans and new fans of hard rock was positive and enthusiastic -- to say the least.

Damon Johnson playing with Alice Cooper

But Johnson seems to be just getting started on his career. He says he will never, ever tire of switching from electric to acoustic guitar tours. He has endless stories about rock stars, and he just moved to Nashville, where you can't even return your cable box without running into a talented musician to collaborate with. Oh, yeah, and he hopes that he'll still be performing when he's 72 years old, like Paul McCartney.

So how is this solo tour fit into your schedule?

Basically, the way my calendar -- or my year generally -- works is that, whether it was with my time in Alice Cooper or when I joined Thin Lizzy two years ago and that band kind of morphed in my band now Black Star Riders, we'll be doing stuff usually in the summer and the fall. So, during the first part of every year, I love that I can go out and play some acoustic and solo shows.

I enjoy that work so much, and it is so fun to cultivate that and make a few new fans. I've put out two solo acoustic CDs in the past 10 years, and they were both so much fun. There was never any intent to take over the world or anything like that. [Laughs] It's just been really fulfilling, and I feel so fortunate that I can stand up there with an acoustic guitar and play some of my favorite songs I've written, songs from bands I've been a part of, or even play my favorite Bob Seger song or Bob Dylan song.

Location Info


Musical Instrument Museum Music Theater

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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