Before The Kids

(established 2006; last updated 2/26/19)

     The early bands that Johnny and others mention as Johnny being in are pretty consistent:  Flame, Zaphyre, Bitch, Bad Boys, The Runaways, and possibly Stiff Richard.  But when they were active and who the band members were remains a bit sketchy.  Some reports contradict one another and a number of folks who have tried to help admit to having vague memories.  However, the following is some information that has been pieced together.  All of these bands would have had to have been active sometime between about 1976, when Johnny himself believes he started playing in bands, and the fall of 1980, when he joined The Kids.  Many thanks to Yves, K., Shari, Lauri, K.A., Anthony, Michael D., Michael, and others for their help!

Check out these magazine blurbs that mention Johnny's early bands...
From Randi Reisfeld's 1989 Johnny Depp biography:
(scan thanks to Maggy)

before the kids

Johnny gives a brief recap of the bands in the January 24, 2008 Rolling Stone:

rolling stone before kids


Flame was formed in around 1976, with a few 9th and 10th graders from the Miramar area. The lineup was:
  • Bernie Pflum - drums
  • Joe Quinones - bass
  • Johnny Depp - guitar
  • Yves Bouhadana - guitar
  • vocals - "nobody"

     They played only the easiest rock songs, instrumentals only- nobody sang.  They wore t-shirts with a flame on them.  They were said to only play one gig, at the St. Bartholomew's Catholic school carnival, where they were rumored to play instrumental versions of Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4 and Lynryd Skynrd's Freebird. 

     Yves Bouhadana can be seen as one of the interviewees in the A&E Biography and E! True Hollywood Story specials on Johnny Depp.


Zaphyre was together sometime around 1978, and reportedly played "100% Van Halen tunes".  Johnny has also described the band as "more Kiss-type stuff."
  • Joe Quinones - bass
  • Johnny Depp - guitar
  • Stan Carter - (possibly a bassist)
  • others?
     Zaphyre may have overlapped somewhat with Bitch.  Quinones played "a shiny Rickenbacker bass."


Bitch was together sometime between 1978 and 1980, and reportedly played "90% Van Halen tunes".  Other bands covered included AC/DC, Frank Mariano and Mahogany Rush, Aerosmith, and possibly Foghat.
  • Vinny Destefanis - lead vocals
  • Kenny Andrews - replaced Destefanis on lead vocals; described as a "David Lee Roth clone"
  • Johnny Depp - guitar
  • Ron Norton - drums
  • another drummer (possibly Jeff Lawson) who later replaced Norton
  • New Robert Davis - bass
  • Joe Quinones - bass
  • Larry Pierce - bass (probably replacing Quinones)
(l-r: Depp, Andrews, Davis)
     The band was described as "loud as hell" and played quite a bit while they were together.   One memorable gig was at an all-girls' Catholic school, Madonna High School, and they also played at a dance at a high school in North Miami and one at the North Miami/Hollywood Armory.  Other venues included the AOR on Dixie Highway and The Blue Waters on South Beach.  They were probably together for a year.
     At one point, while Destefinis was in the band, they auditioned for a talent show (Friendship Train) at Miramar High School, reportedly playing Van Halen's song Show Your Love (aka I'm The One).  They did not reveal the band's name to the judges.  They weren't picked because they were "too loud", and because nobody in the band was still going to Miramar High by that point.  
     Andrews went on to play in a band called Casino Drive and now owns a recording studio in Japan.  Norton went on to play in other bands, such as Amazing Grace and the U.S. Furys, and continues to play in bands in New York City to this day.

Bad Boys

Bad Boys were together sometime between 1978 and 1980, and reportedly played "50% Van Halen tunes".

The Bad Boys reportedly included a band member named Tommy Bircheat.  Larry Pierce and Ron Norton from Bitch were also members of this band.  Jeff Lawson may have been a drummer for the band.  Sal Jenco served as the band's announcer and Barney Manaker helped to book them.  This band may have overlapped to some extent with Bitch.

Stiff Richard

Stiff Richard was a band in Broward, South Florida that Johnny was reported to have rehearsed with in around 1979.  

     David Dukes was a guitarist in the band.  There was also a bassist named Ted Sonnesso (aka Fat Teddy) and a drummer named Bob Beck.  It's not known if Johnny officially joined this band.

The Runaways

The Runaways was another band that Johnny is reported to have been a member of before he joined The Kids.

     The best guess is that this band was around in about 1979-1980. 


    Johnny is reported to have played at a Shamrock Shenanigans at Henry D. Perry Middle School, though it is unknown which band Johnny may have been playing in at the time.  In addition, he is reported to have played at a guitar recital with Ron Davis and Joe Horvath in 1979.  Anthony A. recalls Johnny being in bands called the Lil Generals and Jersey.

Have any corrections or additions?  Please e-mail  at  Photos would be especially appreciated!