Johnny Rivers (John Ramistella)
BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
Singer, songwriter, guitarist and record producer Johnny Rivers has lent his smooth, reedy and soulful voice to a diverse array of songs in such music genres as blues, folk, rhythm and blues and inspired covers of rock-and-roll oldies. Moreover, Rivers has recorded a slew of singles and albums that have sold over 30 million copies, and he has had nine Top 10 hits as well as 17 other songs in the Top 40 charts throughout his career. He was born as John Henry Ramistella on November 7, 1942, in New York City and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more... playing the guitar at age eight; he was taught how to play guitar by his father. Rivers formed his own group called The Spades while still in junior high school in 1956 and even recorded a few songs on the Suede label. Following brief abortive stints in both New York -- where legendary rock'n'roll disc jockey Alan Freed suggested that Johnny change his last name to Rivers -- and Nashville, Johnny settled in Los Angeles. He soon became a popular headliner at the famous nightclub The Whisky-a-Go-Go. His 1964 album "Johnny Rivers Live at the Whisky-a-Go-Go" peaked at #12 on the album charts and beget a #2 hit single with Rivers' cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." Johnny followed with a steady succession of hit covers of "Maybelline," "Midnight Special," and "Seventh Son." Rivers scored his only #1 hit with the elegiac "Poor Side of Town" (he also co-wrote this particular song), which was followed by the exciting "Secret Agent Man." Johnny's covers of "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" and "The Tracks of My Tears" were likewise very successful. In addition, he started his own record company, Soul City Records; this label was instrumental in launching the career of the vocal group The 5th Dimension. He also gave then burgeoning songwriter Jimmy Webb a big break by recording the Webb composition "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on his album "Changes." Johnny continued to churn out hit singles in the '70s; his covers of "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Help Me Rhonda" all did well. Rivers' last top 10 hit was the soothing and sensuous "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancin')." Although his career waned a bit in the '80s, Johnny Rivers continues to both tour and record the occasional new album to this day.