I was sitting around the house in Milwaukee, WI, one day when the phone rang. Steve Cohen, a good friend from 10th grade was on the line. He said, "Hey, Johnny, we're starting a blues band, do want to join?" Although I had no idea how to play blues guitar… I said, "Sure, man, I'm with you."
So we met at Bill Stone's and went down the basement… Steve - harmonica and vocals, Bill - guitar and vocals, Danny Smith - drums, Dave Kasic - bass, and me on guitar. Bill played us songs like "Hideaway" by Freddy King - and we learned our parts and practiced endless hours. We did songs by BB King, Paul Butterfield, James Cotton, Eric Clapton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, etc.
After two months, the "Stone Cohen Blues Band" played its gig at the Catacombs in basement of the YMCA in Milwaukee. Before we started to play, our drummer got punched in the mouth and went home. Marc Wilson brought his drums, played great, and became the band's drummer.
On Halloween Eve, we did a gig I'll never forget at the "Reno Gardens". Everyone was in costumes, dancing and laughing. The band was deep in the groove of the "Hoochie Coochie Man" when all of a sudden chairs start to fly through the air and people were fighting like a Western movie… then I heard gunshots, and saw a guy with a gun firing bullets into the ceiling.
I never packed up my equipment so fast, with my guitar and "Super Reverb" amp in hand, I fled out the nightclub and jumped into the car. Everyone was in shock…
We' started to drive… our manager sat next to the driver and started to scream and curse. Then he bent down as if he was looking for something and came up with a bloody hand… it turns out he was shot in the butt!
We took him immediately to the Emergency Room at Columbia Hospital and waited the whole night on the bench… (Don't tell my mother, she thinks I was late because of a snow storm.)
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