published Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Guitarist Damon Johnson in solo show at Raw

IF YOU GO

What: Damon Johnson

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Raw Night Club & Restaurant, 409 Market St.

Admission: Free

Phone: 756-1919

Damon Johnson is pretty sure he is the most famous guitarist to come out of Geraldine, Ala.

"Ha! That's probably true," he says during a telephone interview, "but I'm probably not the most famous musician."

That honor may go to Pat Upton, lead singer for the Spiral Starecase on the hit song "More Today Than Yesterday."

"He graduated with my mother in 1957 from Gerladine High School," Johnson says.

But Johnson's resume is pretty strong also. He has toured with or been a member of Brother Cane, Alice Cooper, Whiskey Falls, Slave to the System and he is currently a member of the reincarnated Thin Lizzy, which recently changed its name to Black Star Riders. He also has performed with or written for John Waite, Stevie Nicks, Carlos Santana, Sammy Hagar, Queensryche, Faith Hill, Skid Row and the Temptations.

He will be doing a solo show Wednesday at Raw downtown.

"Damon is a great guy and great guitar player and this is like having him in your living room," says Raw owner Jim Striker.

The Black Star Riders is a new band and a new name for what is essentially Thin Lizzy. Band members, which includes longtime guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Brian Downey, wanted to record some new material, but the current lineup didn't feel right about putting out the first Lizzy record since 1983. Phil Lynott, the group's original lead singer and the writer or co-composer of most of their songs, including the hit "The Boys Are Back in Town," died in 1986. Black Star Riders' new CD, "All Hell Breaks Loose," is set for release on May 28.

Johnson, 47, grew up a Thin Lizzy fan -- "Scott Gorham was my hero" -- and says the band, which includes Downey, Gorham and newer members Darren Wharten, Marco Mendoza and singer Ricky Warwick, is very proud of the new record. He believes it was the correct choice to release it under a new name.

"We wanted to consider Thin Lizzy and it felt better to us and it took the pressure off of Ricky," Johnson says.

When the band tours as Black Star Riders, they will play the bulk of the new record, but they'll also include some Thin Lizzy songs.

"We are so proud of these songs and proud of the band's history."

Johnson says he loves doing solo shows like the one at Raw because it lets him play almost anything and allows him to tell stories about his career.

"I did the first one four years ago and it is so fulfilling to go out and play a solo acoustic show," he says. "I'm so humbled to have this 20-year career as a songwriter.

"I'll do some new songs and some old Alice Cooper stuff.

"I played with Coop for six years. I don't think the guy has done a bad show in his life."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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