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The Closing of Johnny D's

Allston February 1986

   So it's been twenty years since Johnny D's closed!! How time flies. 1986.......
I was living in Allston and Johnny D's was a dive bar right around the corner, located on Harvard Ave, which is of course the epicenter of Allston life.

   A bunch of us would get together every Sunday night there; me, Sue Gugnoni, Danny Lee from Uzi/Xcema, Peter Dickson from CCCPTV, Thalia Zedeck(Dangerous Birds, Uzi), Suzy Rust (genius behind the Johnny D's Liberty Guardian), Miguel D'Amore (Hopelessly Obscure, JD's Liberty Guardian) and a bunch of others would hang, eat the awesome burger platters, and listen to the juke box(there was no live music at the time).
    I remember that whenever "The Hanky Panky" came on we would all go nuts…who knows why, it just became out sing to go nuts to!....we'd jump up and start dancing, I distinctly remember Danny Lee dancing on the middle bar to that song. But he now tells me, "Lyn I don't think I was dancing on the bar, I must have been dancing on a table. Those guys would have used my head to mop the floor if I got up on their bar to dance." You see, as with any awesome dive bar, we were invading the space of the neighborhood old guys and townies who had been hangin' there for years but they were pretty open and friendly and let us in on their turf. Either way it was fun!

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Rick Paige and Fishstick.
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Doug Melcher with Fishstick.
Rick looks on in jealousy.
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Blowfish and Monika and a shoe fetish thing?
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Belly up to the bar - it's Carnalita and Peter Dickson
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Mark Frazier in the vest, Monika,
Reid Lapin and Barrance Whitfield
   Then this big, smilin' guy shows up in the kitchen; Rick Paige. It wasn't long before he came to us and asked what we thought of having bands play there…..well, we thought it was a great idea!! And he actually did it, he talked the owner into it and started booking bands!
   Johnny D's had such an awesome feel to it and it was like home. T Max remembers, "I don't know what it was about the place. It didn't have good lighting, it didn't have a good sound system, they didn't have a stage, they had to move the pool table whenever bands played, but it just felt great there!" and it did, it felt great there.
    I think much of it had to do with the times too, like Danny Lee says "That was a chapter in time that will never happen again. It was before MTV, DVDs, email and the Internet. People went out and dealt with each other face to face." Yes, and the scene was burgeoning… was the mid 80's, it wasn't just garage & punk anymore there was Art Wave and New Wave and Ska and all kinds of new music now…and all those bands played at Johnny D's thanks to Rick!
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Miguel D'Amour with Suzy Rust who published The Liberty Guardian.
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John Sox of the FU's
and Nat Fredburg of Upper Crust (now).
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A Happy Couple.
Dave Fenichel and Barbara.
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Miss Lyn getting a kick out of Kenny Gizmo's
stranglehold of Monika.
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Miss Lyn getting a hit from TMax. This has been going on for 20 years!
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Last Stand, I think
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That shoe fettish thing again.
Terry Brenner, Kenny, Moose and Mudbug guitarist.
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Moose and the Mudbugs play.
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Betsy Shaw and Miss Lyn
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John Sox of the FU's
and Kenny Gizmo
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Moose shows what's in our mind.
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Phil 'n Phlash
get a little of his
own medicine
    We contacted Rick about the last night and got a list of the bands that he remembers played. or may have played;
"It was mostly my favorites and the regulars' bands that got the gig."
Moose & The Mudbugs
ScruffyThe Cat
Prime Movers
Salem 66
the Five
The Unattached Flies
The Pets
Last Stand
Dave Harrison - later of Voodoo Dolls, his very first performance
Slaughter Shack (maybe)
Turbines (probably)
Quest for Tuna (probably)
Beachmasters (probably)
Underachievers (maybe)
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Scruffy the Cat.
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Tanya Donnelly from Throwing Muses, Reid Paley and Danny Lee from Uzi.
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Terry Brenner, Ken Kaiser and Moose.
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L to R - Brian Gillespie of The Five
Marty of Zero Zero
and Greg Sotsky from The Bell People.
    Rick went on to share his memories of the closing;
    "It was a loooong night. Music started at noon, and went to closing so it was probably 12+ bands, and we were running out of time at the end. I got there at 11:00 and was surprised to see so many people already there.
   We let most of the regulars in for free, or next to free, (I may have hit 'em up for $1). We charged something stupid to get in, I think $10 which was an ungodly amount for us and that time period, but we only charged those we didn't recognize full price.
   We sold out by about 4 in the afternoon and had a line forming.I did my best Mudd Club impersonation walking down the line and if I saw a semi-regular I let them in. One guy (who I had kept waiting for a long time) offered me $30 to let him in. "30 bucks?". I was incredulous. "Yeah, make it $40." "Come right in my friend..." then me and Doug watched as the big-spender fought his way into the crowd, then we looked at each and yelled, "Loser!" at each other. I was really happy for some odd reason, it felt like a celebration. *shrug* "
    We also showed Rick the photos on this page, here's what he had to say;
    "I think it's really funny that some of the photos you can tell were taken from behind the bar, and in a couple you can see some regulars are behind the bar. What are the chances of that happening today? In some ways JDs was like a clubhouse for the local allstonians. And I always liked that some of the older clientele still came in, and just accepted the crazy punk kids in their bar.
   And of course the bartenders were all brighton townies and not scenesters by any stretch, and they all loved the rock crowd too. (Probably had something to do w/ the fact they made great tips.)"
"Prime Movers were supposed to be the last act, with Dogmatics on before them. But when it was time for the Dogs to go on, only Tommy the drummer could be found. Time drags on, still no Dogmatics. They were here earlier.
Now the PMs are getting nervous, thinking their slot is getting shortened. So they go on a little early. Dogmatics come stumbling in shortly thereafter. I'm pissed and tell 'em they blew their slot. They beg to go on after the PMs. They explain they were getting blowjobs in the van. Well, that is a good excuse.......So I let 'em do a short set after the PMs finish.
   And of course the Piranha Bros. swinging on the pool lights and bringing the whole ceiling down was the perfect ending, Doug losing his mind and screaming, "We know where you live Piranha Bros.!" into the mike. Total chaos.
    I enjoyed it more than I probably should have."

    It was a great place, Rick is so right, it was our clubhouse and we went back again and again. And what an awesome, most memorable night when Johnny D's "closed" !

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Copyright © 2006 Paul Lovell. All rights reserved.