Happy Birthday Johnny Bush!

Johnny Bush turns 75 today, but you can celebrate with him and friends at a concert this Saturday, at Willie’s Place, Carl’s Corner, Texas.  For information on tickets (if there are any left), visit:

Cosett Holland, Johnny Bush & Willie Nelson
Walteers Ranch House
San Antonio, Texas – 1954


Born John Bush Shinn III in 1935 in the hardscrabble blue-collar neighborhood of Kashmere Gardens in Houston, Johnny Bush became an early devotee of the Western Swing music of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and the honky-tonk sounds of Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Thompson. Thanks to his uncle, Jerry Jericho, who had a radio program on KTHT, John and his brother made fledgling broadcasts that imbued the thrill of performance into John Bush Shinn’s young musical soul.

He was only 17 when he moved to San Antonio to pursue his passion, a passion that introduced him to the honky-tonk universe of wine, women, and song. As a regular performer at the Texas Star Inn he picked up the moniker that would accompany him though decades of stage and recording work when the club’s announcer mistakenly introduced him as “Johnny Bush.”

Johnny was a natural performer with a soulful sense of time and meter, a unique gift that led him to the drums and a series of great gigs on the dancehall circuit with groups like the Mission City Playboys, the Texas Plainsmen and the Texas Top Hands. But when he joined Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys in 1963—along with a brash young kid named Willie Nelson—Johnny became the timepiece for the honky-tonk dream team. Price’s inimitable voice and the band’s mastery of the Texas shuffle dance beat as exemplified in Ray’s massive hit, “Crazy Arms,” made the Cherokee Cowboys America’s top-shelf country band.

His association with Price led Johnny to Nashville in the mid-sixties and he soon landed a deal singing demos for a prominent song publisher. He kept his finger on the rhythm of the road by playing in Willie Nelson’s new group, the Record Men, which in turn led to Johnny’s first single recording, “Sound of A Heartache” backed by Willie’s “A Moment Isn’t Very Long.” Willie was primarily known as a songwriter in the sixties but Johnny found him infinitely inspiring and creative and Willie went on to produce Johnny’s first album, Sound of A Heartache in 1967. The friendship and mutual admiration that these two struggling Texans enjoyed in Nashville endures to this day.

For more great stories and pictures, and to purchase his book and music, visit Johnny Bush’s website at www.JohnnyBush.com

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