Johnson’s name may only be familiar to a cult of faithful followers, but he’s one of the true heroes of the Southern alt and punk rock underground. From his days riding shotgun with Alex Chilton, to his efforts helping found the Panther Burns to his work with outfits like the Gibson Bros. and '68 Comeback, Ross has been a dedicated soldier in the trash rock trenches for four decades – while creating a catalog of truly brilliant and bizarre solo recordings on the side.
Ross' mostly spontaneously composed songs – which concern his fraught relations with women, booze, and the very nature of being a Southerner -- are part deconstructionist roots music, part absurdist comedy. Imagine a cross between Hasil Adkins and Sam Kinison, or Charlie Feathers and Albert Brooks, or Kim Fowley and Jerry Clower, and you’ll get the picture (please forgive the groping hybrid comparisons, but as you’ll find out, Ross is rather hard to define). Call it southern fried outsider art or rockabilly psychosis, but once you get a glimpse of Ross’ twisted vision, you’ll never look at the world the same way again.
But Johnson’s story is more than that of just an unhinged rock and roll hellion. An Arkansas native and son of a respected newspaper editor, he moved to Memphis as a teen, just in time for the city’s mid-60s garage band boom. He got his foot in the music scene as a one of the few original and enthusiastic fans of hometown pop group Big Star. Johnson then went on to write for the legendary Lester Bangs at Creem, under the memorable alias of Chester the Conger Eel. He soon befriended Alex Chilton, helped introduce punk rock to Memphis, and later became a notorious imbiber/MC/ringleader as a founding member of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. Since then he’s spent time thumping the tubs for a variety of wild outfits from the Gibson Bros. to the Ron Franklin Entertainers - all the while maintaining his alter-ego as a mild mannered librarian at the University of Memphis. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.