|Johnny Carroll and Judy Lindsey|
John Lewis Carroll was born on October 23, 1937 in Cleburne, Texas. He was raised with Country music and at 9 years old bought himself his first guitar. When he was 10 his mother had taught him enough to appear on radiostation KCLE in Cleburne on Saturday mornings. Later he was introduced to R&B by a cousin who was co-owner of a jukebox company and who would bring over some wellworn 78's by artists such as Big Joe Turner. This opened Johnny's ears to a new exciting form of music which made an impression on him.
During his second year in highschool at the age of 15 Johnny formed his first band The Moonlighters. They had their own Saturday morning show on radiostation KCLE in Cleburne. In 1955 Johnny, together with his highschool friends Bill Hennen (piano) and Billy Bunton (bass), won first prize in a talent contest. Jay Salem, a guitarplayer from Burleson, Texas, won second prize at the same contest. Johnny asked him if he would like to join the band to which he agreed. It wasn't too long before they were opening the show for Ferlin Husky at Fort Worth's Northside Colosseum. Their appearance did impress Jack "Tiger" Goldman, the owner of The Top Ten Recording Studio in Dallas, Texas. He became their first manager and the band cut several demos in his studio.
Jack Goldman arranged a deal with Decca in Nashville, were eagerly looking for a reply to RCA's Elvis Presley and maybe Johnny Carroll could be what they were looking for. Anyway the Decca people were most impressed with "Crazy Crazy Lovin" a song which Johnny wrote himself. Decca was only interested to sign Johnny Carroll to a recording contract, not his band. That's why musicians such as Grady Martin - guitar, Owen Bradley - piano and Harold Bradley - rhythmguitar, appear on his Decca recordings of which "Rock 'n' Roll Ruby" became the biggest seller. To promote his protege Tiger persuaded Sonny Freidman to shoot a quickie rock & roll movie "Rock Baby Rock It" in Dallas. The movie was shot partly in a studio on Lemon Avenue and partly in California. The movie had it's opening night in Memphis, Tennessee in June of 1957. The film wasn't nominated for any Oscar awards and was soon forgotten.
Decca dropped their contract with Johnny but fortunately he landed a contract with Sun records. Four songs were recorded at Cliff Herring's studio, Fort Worth, Texas on June, 23 1957, of which Sam Phillips released "That's The Way I Love" b/w "l'll Wait" on his new founded Phillips Int. label. As the record didn't get any promotion it quickly died on the market.
In 1958 Johnny got himself a new manager, Ed Mc Lemore. It was at the same time that Gene Vincent settled in Dallas and he too was signed with the McLemore agency. It was the start of a close friendship between the two singers. They both used some of the same musicians such as Howard Reed, Bill Hennen, Royce McAffe and Grady Owen. This group was collectively known as The Spinners, and they backed Johnny on some sides he cut at Seller's Recording Studio, Dallas, Texas. McLemore sent the demos to Warner Bros in New York who decided to release "Bandstand Doll" b/w "The Swing" in their original form. The record became Johnny's biggest, but unfortunately the followup "Sugar" b/w "Lost Without You" wasn't quite that successfull so Warner Bros dropped their contract with him.
Johnny Carroll, now sick and tired of the hard life on the road retired in 1959 but made a sort of come back in 1960 with two songs, Trudy" b/w "Run Come See", originally released on WA 112. This record saw the end of Johnny's recording career until the 1970's. Johnny then made a living as a fixer for Brian Sellers hiring and arranging bands for Sellers string of clubs.
It wasn't until 1974 when Ronny Weiser persuaded Johnny to cut the excellent Gene Vincent tribute "Black Leather Rebel" that we heard from him again. It was probably around that time that he recorded the song "Cry". While working with Ronny Weiser he also cut an album for Ron's Rollin' Rock label in 1978.
Johnny then teamed up with ex-model and singer Judy Lindsey and that encouraged him to play music full time again. The duo have released numerous records both singles and albums. They have also visited Europe a couple of times including Sweden and consolidated a reputation as great pertormers.
C. H. Olofsson, American Music Magazine, 1989