Monday, July 16, 2007

Kelly Johnson, 1958-2007

I am very bummed to learn of the passing of Girlschool guitarist Kelly Johnson, who died yesterday of cancer of the spine at age 49.

Girlschool was heavy metal's answer to The Go-Go's back in the early '80s, and these girls—yes, they actually played their own instruments—made contemporary bands like Judas Priest and Van Halen sound like The Archies at times, and had far more balls than Vinnie Vincent of Kiss ever did.  Their collaborations with Uncle Lemmy and Motorhead are also fairly legendary and 1981's Hit And Run is absolutely one of my favorite metal albums of all-fucking-time.

I never actually met Kelly Johnson (second from left in this photo), but I do have her autograph.  Rather ironically, Girlschool made an in-store appearance 25 years ago this week on July 10, 1982 at my favorite record haunt, the long-defunct Village Records in Raytown.  It was a Saturday afternoon, and I had to work that morning at my much-despised bus boy gig at Waid's Restaurant, and got off work at 2:00.  Back then I was a night owl, so going to bed early the night before working day shift was a foreign concept to me, thus as per my usual, all I wanted to do when I got home from work was crash on the sofa in my basement bedroom for a few hours.  Meantime, my good friend Tom was frantically trying to call me from the record shop to alert me of the goings-on there, but I was comatose by that time and didn't hear the phone ringing upstairs, and no one else was home at the time to answer it, thus I majorly missed out on an opportunity at a brush with greatness.  However, each band member was kind enough to sign a copy of Hit And Run for me.  Why on earth we didn't go to their concert that night at Memorial Hall mystifies me to this day.  Girlschool is another band I deeply regret not seeing live in concert back in the day, as I've heard they put on a great show and rocked out just as much as the boys did.

A long-belated "Cheers, you lot" for the autograph, Kelly, and may you rest in peace...

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