John "Southside Johnny" Lyon

born on 4/12/1948 in Neptune, NJ, United States

Southside Johnny

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Southside Johnny

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


Early days

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."


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". In 1977, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes were featured as a bar band in the movie, "Between the Lines."

In 1979, Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes appeared on television, featured as the musical guest for the cross-border sketch comedy show, SCTV. Johnny and the band played three full songs, including "The Fever", and performed many truncated versions from their other tunes that served to fill the necessities of television: fading in from a commercial, beginning another tune that leads to a hard break, and, throughout, some very good background action and music. Johnny acted in one sketch, and the entire band was featured as a plot point in another. It was a new perspective of such artists as Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes, and one that trumped the prevailing standard of TWO-LIVE-TUNES somewhere between D and E block, slipped in between the bumble bee sketch, and a juggling political satirist. Again in 1979, Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes performed a homecoming concert in Asbury Park which was the subject of a documentary film directed and produced by Neal Marshad called "Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes at the Asbury Park Convention Center". The film was first shown in January 1980 on Warner Cable's QUBE in Columbus, Ohio. QUBE system had numerous specialized channels, one of which was called Sight on Sound that was devoted exclusively to music (which evolved to become MTV) that featured concert footage and music programs.


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 Live: Reach Up and Touch the Sky.

In 1982 Rolling Stone Magazine voted the album Hearts of Stone among the top 100 albums of the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1983, Southside Johnny served as a technical advisor on the film Eddie and the Cruisers.[3]

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 Contemporary" 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 1985, Southside Johnny contributed the song Tuff Turf to the movie of the same name.

In 1987, Southside and the Jukes were featured in the film Adventures in Babysitting performing at a college frat party. They performed the songs "Future In Your Eyes" and "Expressway to Your Heart".[4]

In 1988 Southside Johnny released his first solo record Slow Dance containing ballads and love songs like "On the Air", 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.


In 1990, Southside contributed the songs "Memories of You" and "Written in the Wind" to the film Captain America.[5] Additionally, he performed the song "Please Come Home for Christmas" for the 1990 film Home Alone.[6]

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."

In 1992, Southside contributed the song "Shake 'Em Down" to the film The Mighty Ducks.[7]

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 continued to perform, and maintains substantial audience followings as 2002's Live At The Opera House DVD, filmed at a sold-out performance in Newcastle upon Tyne, demonstrated.

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.[8]

As of 2009, Southside Johnny Lyon lives again in his original hometown Ocean Grove.[9]

The Juke's newest album "Pills and Ammo" was released in June 2010, receiving the most critical acclaim since the Better Days album. All the songs were primarily written by Southside Johnny and Jukes keyboard player Jeff Kazee.

On September 24, 2010 Southside Johnny and the Jukes kicked off an international tour (official website) with a free performance at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, NJ. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue to be a fixture on the U.S. Northeast music scene including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland, as well as throughout the UK and Europe.

On July 2, 2011 Southside Johnny and the Jukes recorded a live performance of Stevie Van Zandt's Men Without Women album at the Stone Pony in New Jersey for release on CD. The material on "Men Without Women" was composed almost entirely of unused material originally recorded by Southside Johnny during the "Hearts of Stone" sessions, later re-recorded by Van Zandt as his first solo album.[10]

In October 2011, with his band "The Poor Fools", he recorded a version of "I'm Down" for The Beatles Complete On Ukulele.

According to a post by Southside Johnny from May 2011 on his official website, he is recording a new album with the Jukes as well as working on an acoustic album.[11]



  • 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)
    • The Jukes (1979)
    • Love Is a Sacrifice (1980)
    • Live: Reach Up and Touch the Sky (1981)
    • Better Days (1991)
    • Ruff Stuff (EP) (1995)
    • Live at the Paradise Theater (2000)
    • Messin' With the Blues (2000)
    • More Ruff Stuff (EP) (2000)
    • Going to Jukesville (2002)
    • Found in a Closet (EP) (2003)
    • Missing Pieces (2004)
    • Into the Harbour (2005)
    • Jukebox (2007)
    • Ruff Stuff 3 (EP) (2008)
    • From Southside to Tyneside (2008)
    • 1978: Live in Boston (2008)
    • Hearts of Stone LIVE (2009)
    • Pills and Ammo (2010)
    • Acoustic Ammo (EP) (2011)
    • Men Without Women LIVE (2012)
  • Southside Johnny & the Jukes
    • Trash It Up! (1983)
    • In the Heat (1984)
    • At Least We Got Shoes (1986)
  • Southside Johnny
    • Slow Dance (1988)
    • Spittin' Fire (1997)
  • 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)
    • Rusty Cloud: Walkin' the Night (1994)
    • Rattlesnake Guitar: Music of Peter Green (1997)
    • Gary U.S. Bonds: Back in 20 (2004) [13]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes


Rock 'n' roll should be made by truck drivers from Tupelo, Mississippi, not studio musicians with an album commitment to fulfil.

NME - September 1977[14]


  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. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. [3]
  6. [4]
  7. [5]
  8. 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 guyswithout, 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."
  9. Philadelphia Daily News [6], 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."
  10. Men Without Women Live
  11. John's Jive May 7, 2011
  13. Bruce Springsteen guest appearances
  14. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years, 1st, London: Reed International Books Ltd. CN 5585.

External links

  • - Official website
  • - Fan website
  • Southside Johnny Imeem Fan Group website
  • Concert at Asbury Park Convention Hall documentary on IMDB
This page was last modified 14.11.2012 03:18:46

This article uses material from the article Southside Johnny from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.