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Southside Johnny

Southside Johnny in performance, 2008
Background information
Birth name John Lyon
Born December 4, 1948 (1948-12-04) (age 61)
Ocean Grove, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Rock
Blue-eyed soul
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1970–present
Labels Columbia Records, Mercury Records, Leroy Records
Associated acts Bruce Springsteen
The E Street Band
Little Steven
The Miami Horns

Southside Johnny (real name John Lyon, born December 4, 1948 in Neptune, New Jersey) is an American singer-songwriter who usually fronts his band Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.



Lyon grew up in Ocean Grove, New Jersey[1] and graduated from Neptune High School.[2] Southside has long been considered the Grandfather of "the New Jersey Sound." Jon Bon Jovi has acknowledged Southside as his "reason for singing."


1975 - 1980

Southside Johnny first achieved prominence in the mid-1970s as the second act to emerge from the Jersey Shore music scene and be considered part of the Jersey Shore sound, following Bruce Springsteen. Southside's first three albums, I Don't Want to Go Home (1976), This Time It's For Real (1977), and Hearts of Stone (1978), were Stax-influenced R&B arranged and produced by the co-founder of the band and Springsteen confederate Steven Van Zandt and largely featured songs written by Van Zandt and/or Springsteen. The Van Zandt-written "I Don't Want To Go Home" became Southside's signature song, an evocative mixture of horn-based melodic riffs and sentimental lyrics. Other notable songs included "The Fever", "Talk to Me", "This Time It's For Real", "Love on the Wrong Side of Town", and the definitive version of Springsteen's "Hearts of Stone".

1980 - 1990

Cast under Springsteen's long shadow, Southside and the Jukes never gained national commercial success, and in 1979 they were dropped by their record company. Now working without Van Zandt, they released The Jukes in 1979 and Love is a Sacrifice in 1980. Neither of these achieved much success either. The band's first official live release also came out in 1980, the double album Reach Up and Touch the Sky.

In 1982 Rolling Stone Magazine voted the album Hearts of Stone among the top 100 albums of the 70's and 80's.

During the 1980s Southside Johnny's recording contracts continued to change almost by album, but he continued to release records: Trash It Up (1983), a disco influenced album written by Billy Rush and produced by Nile Rodgers; In the Heat (1984) an album trying to reach out to "Adult Oriented Radio"; and At Least We Got Shoes (1986) where guitarist and Jersey shore fixture Bobby Bandiera took over songwriting and guitar work from Billy Rush and led the Asbury Jukes back to their original sound. Songwriting credits on At Least We Got Shoes also contain a song co-written by Bandiera and singer Patti Scialfa, who was known as a Jukes collaborator since the 1980 album Love is a Sacrifice and who became a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band in 1984.

In 1987, Southside and the Jukes were featured in the film Adventures in Babysitting performing at a college frat party. One of the songs performed was Future In Your Eyes.

In 1988 Southside Johnny released his first solo record Slow Dance containing ballads and love songs, but also "Little Calcutta" which is still discussed as Southside's most political song of his career, describing the life and environment of the homeless in New York City.

More record label switches, Jukes personnel changes, tours and club dates followed.

1990 - today

Southside Johnny & Bobby Bandiera in 2005

His recording career was re-launched with the album Better Days (1991), which featured production by Van Zandt, songs by Springsteen, and vocal performances from Van Zandt, Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. With Bobby Bandiera driving the band, the Jukes were gaining new energy for a world wide tour supporting the album. But once again, Southside Johnny's bad luck with the industry was shown when the record label went bankrupt while the tour was still rolling.

Southside performed the theme song for the 1990s television sitcom Dave's World, a cover of Billy Joel's "You May Be Right."

Southside eventually relocated to Nashville taking a break from the music business. A few members of the Asbury Jukes would end up being part of The Max Weinberg 7 on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien television show, while some others went on tour and into the recording studio with artists like Jon Bon Jovi, Mink DeVille, Graham Parker, and Robert Cray.

In 1998 Southside Johnny came back into the spotlight with an independent release titled Spittin' Fire, a live record with a semi-acoustic Jukes lineup released in France containing a 20 song set recorded during a series of 10 shows at the "Chesterfield Café" in Paris, France.

Since 2001 Southside Johnny and the Jukes have toured the UK and Europe as an annual event, their first since the 1992 Better Days tour, although Southside and Bobby Bandiera did some acoustic shows in 1995.

After a decade without a record contract Southside finally founded his own record label in 2001 under the name of Leroy Records, and started releasing and distributing his new records fully under his own control: Messin' with the Blues (2000), Going to Jukesville (2002), Missing Pieces (2004), Into the Harbour (2005).

Southside continues to perform, and maintains substantial audience followings in some regions of the U.S., such as New Jersey, New York, northeast Ohio, and abroad, in the UK and continental Europe, as 2002's Live At The Opera House DVD, filmed at a sold-out performance in Newcastle upon Tyne, demonstrates. His appearances at Springsteen's Asbury Park or Bandiera's holiday benefit shows draw as much crowd excitement as Springsteen himself.

Two die-hard Southside fans from England, Mike Saunders and Dave Percival, while following a European tour, befriended the band and became volunteer roadies for the remaining UK shows. Nicknamed 'the Druids' by Bobby Bandiera for Saunders' long hair and Percival's hooded sweatshirt, they helped on subsequent British tours and became part of the Jukes touring family and legend. Mike Saunders also chronicled the band's many line-up changes over the years in the form of an Asbury Jukes family tree.

In 2008, Southside Johnny collaborated with long-time Asbury Jukes trombone player Richie "La Bamba" Rosenberg, for a break from the classic Asbury Jukes sound to classic Big-Band Jazz. Together with a 20 piece big band they recorded a cover album of songs written by Tom Waits, arranged and conducted by Rosenberg. [3]

As of 2009, Southside Johnny Lyon lives again in his original hometown Ocean Grove, N.J. USA. [4]


Southside Johnny and saxaphonist Joey Stann in 2007
The horn section of the Asbury Jukes in 2006
Southside Johnny and some more of the Asbury Jukes at their annual end-of-summer Bar A show, Lake Como, New Jersey, 2008


  • Southside Johnny
    • Slow Dance (1988)
    • Spittin' Fire (1997)
  • Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
    • I Don't Want To Go Home (1976)
    • Live At The Bottom Line (1976)
    • This Time It's For Real (1977)
    • Hearts Of Stone (1978)
    • Havin' A Party (1979)
    • The Jukes (1979)
    • Love Is A Sacrifice (1980)
    • Reach Up And Touch The Sky (1981)
    • Trash It Up (1983)
    • Better Days (1991)
    • Live at The Paradise Theater (2000)
    • Messin' With The Blues (2000)
    • Going To Jukesville (2002)
    • Missing Pieces (2004)
    • Into The Harbour (2005)
    • From Southside To Tyneside (2008)
    • Hearts Of Stone (live) (2009)
  • Southside Johnny & The Jukes
    • In the Heat (1984)
    • At Least We Got Shoes (1986)
  • Southside Johnny with La Bamba's Big Band
    • Grapefruit Moon: The Songs Of Tom Waits (2008)
  • Selected others
    • Jersey Artists For Mankind: "We Got The Love" / "Save Love, Save Life" (1986)
    • Soundtrack: Home Alone (1990)
    • Killer Joe: Scene Of The Crime (1991)
    • Gary U.S. Bonds: Back in 20 (2004) [6]

External links


  1. ^ Minor, E. Kyle. "MUSIC; A Bar Band Once Again Takes to The Road", The New York Times, June 18, 2000. Accessed January 8, 2008. "That association was made in Mr. Lyon's youth, growing up Ocean Grove, N.J., half a mile from Asbury Park."
  2. ^ Kaz, Ed. "IT'S HIS PARTY, AND HE'LL SING THE BLUES IF HE WANTS TO ", Asbury Park Press, December 29, 2000, copy of article on Accessed August 26, 2008. "JERSEY ALIVE: And where did you guys go to high school? SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY: Neptune High School. The Scarlet Flyers, man."
  3. ^ Leroy Records "Grapefruit Moon - The Songs of Tom Waits", Leroy Records Press Release, August 29, 2008, copy of article on Accessed December 26, 2008. "Perhaps the biggest seal of approval is Waits’ vocal turn on “Walk Away,” a song in which he and Southside do what they do best: romanticize and mythologize the soul of ordinary average guys—without, of course, getting overly precious. “I just thought it would be funny,” he says. “We both have these voices that no one would consider beautiful."
  4. ^ Philadelphia Daily News [1], Interview with Jonathan Takiff, November 28, 2008, Interview for the Philadelphia Daily News. Accessed on December 27, 2008. "I've moved all over the place, but now I'm back in my old hometown of Ocean Grove, N.J. It's right below Asbury Park, which is the same nightmare it's always been. But I like this place. It's great that I'm a known quantity, but I don't get harassed. It means I can get credit at the grocery store if I forgot my wallet."
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bruce Springsteen guest appearances


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