Rock City Angels were a popular Florida band that moved to LA in
the mid 80's. Johnny was the rhythm guitarist in the band for
months in 1986 and continued to sit in with them for about a year.
Thanks to Bobby D., Ringo J., Billy S. and Cat from Gold Coast Live for their contributions to this page.
The Rock City Angels
began as The
Abusers in South Florida, with members Bobby Durango (aka Bobby Bondage
aka Bobby St. Valentine) and Andy Panik among others. They
punk rock and opened for bands like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks,
and eventually developed into more of a glam band and changed their
name to Rock City Angels. According to a 2007 interview with
Panik (no longer available online), the lineup of Bobby, Andy, Jimmy
James, Punkee Stevens
Smack moved to LA on June 20, 1986. Drummer Punkee Stevens
the band 3 days after the move and then joined Johnny Crash,
("Ringo") Jukes replaced Stevens as drummer.
Soon after the move to LA, guitarists
and Jack Smack were fired, and Mike
Barnett (aka Mike Angel) joined the band. Because they had
been a two guitar band, another guitarist was needed, and Mike's good
friend Johnny Depp
became their rhythm guitarist. Johnny had just returned from
filming Platoon in The Philippines. It was evident from the
that Johnny would make the band; Andy Panik recalls Johnny learning an
entire 12 song set during a rehearsal in which he was auditioning.
To this day, Panik describes the lineup of Durango, Panik,
Barnett and Depp to be the "quintessential" RCA lineup.
has described the band as "a cross between Muddy Waters and the Sex
their site describes them as "an exciting mixture of punk-inspired
glam-rock." According to Andy Panik in a 2009 interview,
only ever recorded one song with the band in the studio for what would
have been the band's glam album.
Johnny had to quit the RCA when
agreed to do
the 21 Jump Street
Fox TV series, and was replaced by Doug Banx. Taping for Jump Street
began in Vancouver in December of 1986, but since Johnny was not an
original cast member it's not certain if he moved to Vancouver this
early. However, by most accounts, Johnny continued to play
the RCA on occasion, even after getting the Jump Street
through about the summer of 1987, perhaps with Nic Cage and Sal Jenco
sometimes sitting in as well. In a 2009 interview with
Nashvillerock.net, Durango even says that Johnny spent time training
Some live gigs
featuring Johnny that have been recalled
by Jukes, Durango and Panik, as well as some added by Mike from the janesddiction.org site
(Please see the JD
Rocks! Timeline and Live On Stage pages for several specific
show dates in 1986 and 1987)
- Three to
four shows at the Lingerie Club
- A street
fair for the homeless at Thanksgiving, presumably in 1986
- A festival
in Oxnard, CA
the Scream Club, including one on Valentine's Day 1987, opening for
shows at the Coconut Teaszer
- A show at
the White Trash au Go-Go on July 3, 1987
At one point,
Mike Barnett got in an ugly confrontation with Bobby Durango.
This, in combination with alleged drug use and many missed
rehearsals and sessions on Barnett's part, led to his firing from the
band. According to Panik, Johnny was not in contact with
of the band members for many years after Barnett was kicked out. Mike Barnes then
joined the RCA as another guitarist.
A&R rep Billy Siciliano recalls the first time he saw
the Rock City Angels live at the Troubadour, being floored by
Bobby Durango's voice and the band's great hooks. He immediately
called Grace Reinbold, who soon signed the band to their management
company. Billy kindly shares his story here:
there my name is Billy Siciliano, I worked for Grace Reinbold who
managed the Rock City Angels. All these years later and the endless
Story's that have been written, I thought I would take a minute and add
something. As the Management's A&R Rep I had spent the Fall of
1986 searching for new talent, my background was working at Dutch East
India Independent Record Distributor 1982-1986 home of Homestead
Records and the Heavy metal label I was in charge of Pentagram Records.
I had signed Ded Engine, N.M.E., Pentagram, did Distribution deals with
New York EP Carry The Torch and Hammers Rule out of
Colorado. After leaving the Label I ended up working with Grace and
relocated to Nashville where we found The Royal Court Of China who
where signed to A&M in 1987. Then relocated to Los Angeles in the
Fall of 1986 where I left off. I seemed to spend almost every night
going to Clubs and there where no Bands that really had the it factor.
One night I was sitting at the Bar in the Troubadour and I hear and see
this skinny white guy in a cowboy hat singing Dock Of The Bay that
would of made Otis Redding smile, Really got my attention, they did
several more songs some with a Glam edge to them and a few which had
great hooks. After the show I went and gave my card to the Band and
said who I was and if you are interested in Management give me a call
and we will set up a meeting with my boss. The next morning I was so
excited about the Band I called Grace and said you have to fly to L. A.
and meet with the band, which she did and a few weeks later we signed
them to our Management Company. The band was put in the studio and
recorded 16 track Demo's which where shopped to the labels, to this day
in my opinion those Demo's blow away the album which was released on
Geffen. I will never forget the night after the show at White Trash
when Tom Zutaut ran up the stairs and said you guy's are signed to
Geffen. There has been many a Story written over the years but for one
who actually lived it in the end the Dreams and the Vision I saw that
night at the Troubadour where just another sad story of a
Band's journey into the recycled bin."
Thanks Billy! In May of 1987,
the Rock City Angels were offered a huge
record deal from Geffen records. Here is a photo from the day
the contract was signed at the Geffen Records Office on Sunset Blvd:
left photo, top l-r: Stevens Weiss
(Led Zeppelin's business manager), Billy Siciliano (band management), Theresa Ensenat
(Geffen Records A&R);
bottom l-r: band members Bobby
Durango and Jackie D. "Ringo" Jukes
right photo, top l-r: Tom Zutaut (Geffen A&R Rep), Grace Reinbold (band manager for RCA), Eddie Rosenblatt (Geffen Exec.);
bottom l-r (only partially visible): band members Doug Banx, Andy Panik, and Mike Barnes
They were sent to Tennessee to prepare their
debut CD, Young Man's Blues. For a brief time, they had to
their name to the Delta City Rebels (or the Delta Rebels) due to a
conflict with a gospel group of the same name, and even released a
track on a Scream (nightclub) Compilation
under the name Delta Rebels.
They were able to revert to the name Rock
City Angels before the
release of the album. The album features
one song, Mary, for which Johnny co-wrote the music. The band lineup
The album was
recorded in Memphis
Nov. 1987 to Apr. 1988. It was originally mixed
by producer Jim
Dickinson, but the record company asked for a remix, and Dickinson left
the project. Durango got involved when he wasn't happy with
label's attempt, and the result was a compromise. In
2009, the original Jim Dickinson mix was made available to fans.
Bobby Durango describes Dickinson's involvement and
departure from the album project in a note that he sent to me in 2010:
Durango - vocals
- Mike Barnes
- Doug Banx -
- Andy Panik
- Jackie D.
Jukes - drums
Blues was released in 1988 by Geffen. The official press release for the album is shown below:
1989 blurb in the teen magazine
Bop mentioned that Johnny's co-written song, Mary, was not included on
the cassette or CD versions of the original release, just on the vinyl
LP, but the press release contradicts this. Gott Records rereleased the album in 2005 (with Mary on
CD). The band was dropped
from Geffen a few
later. The story of the breakup and the theories about why
dropped them are strange tales indeed, and would best be served by
reading the stories yourselves. See the links below,
interview with Ringo and Bobby in 2003, an American Music Press in
2006, and most recently, a 2011 Itsaxxxxthing interview with Bobby that
seeks to clarify the real RCA story once and for all.
Jukes is a significant contributor to the
Do It For Johnny
that had its world premiere at the 22nd Santa Barbara International
Film Festival on Jan. 28, 2007.
film also had a screening at the Bug Theatre in Denver and additional
film festival screenings throughout '07. Four Rock City
songs are said to be featured, including Johnny's cowriting effort,
Unfortunately, the documentary has yet to see a theatrical or
Durango and Ringo Jukes completed the long-unfinished RCA album,
Use Once And Destroy, for release. It can be purchased from CD Baby.
They also played some unplugged shows
the Tap Room on
Beale Street in Memphis. Ringo also played drums on a
release by Elam McKnight called Supa Good. The music is said
be hardcore punk/blues, and was originally going to be used for the
film Black Snake Moan.
2009, Durango revived the Rock City Angels, and
they were active through 2012, playing shows in both Tennessee and
Florida, with the following lineup:
2010, the RCA released an album, Midnight Confessions: Lost recordings
from 1989 to 1992, on FNA
It can also be purchased in digital format from Amazon and
of 2011, Bobby Durango also had another punk/blues band, Mondophonics,
out of Memphis, TN.
Durango : Vocals
James : Guitar
Raygun : Guitar
- Adam G.
Dover : Drums
Sadly, in early June of 2012, Bobby
away. At the time of his death, he had been working on a new
album with the Rock City Angels, which was to be titled Devils in the
Countryside and expected to be released by the end of 2012.
remains to be seen whether the album will still come to fruition.
The lineup at this time was:
Read some articles reporting Bobby's passing from UltimateRock.com,
New Times. A Memorial Page has been set up on Facebook.
Durango : Vocals
Raygun : Guitar
James/Jorge Hernandez : Guitar
- Mark Binko
Dover/Adam Keller : Drums
In March-April of 2014, Johnny paid his first
Beijing, China, to promote his film, Trancendence. While
he visited the Li-Pi Record Store, and spotted a Rock City Angels Young
Man's Blues LP in the bin. He pointed and said, "THAT is my old band!"
A very nice shout-out after so many years!
of Johnny visiting Li-Pi Records and playing some Chinese instruments
Also in April of 2014, an Indian tabloid site, IndianTVNews,
published a silly rumor, filled with inaccuracies and some facts that
actually better describe Johnny's other band The Kids, claiming that
Johnny put his career on hold to reunite with the Rock City Angels.
The article was considered by RCA and Depp fans alike to be a
parody. Even so, former RCA bassist Andy Panik posted to
various sites including the Rock City Angels Facebook Page,
reporting that he and Johnny had actually recently been in
communication. He said that they spoke about Bobby Durango's
passing and former RCA member Mike Barnes, and also that "We spoke about jamming."
Whether they will actually ever get together to jam is anyone's
guess-- we should take this with a grain of salt-- Panik says that
their recent conversation had taken "25 years of weight off (his) shoulders." Very glad to hear that!
Man's Blues was ranked at #106 in
Eddy's book "Stairway To
Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe."
Please visit the JD Rocks! Live On Stage
page to see ads for several Rock City Angels shows during 1986-1987.
Reisfeld's account of Johnny's stint in the Rock City Angels:
and an earlier mention from the Florida days:
a mention from the April 1989 issue of 16 magazine, which tells
about Johnny's involvement with the band,
as well as his contribution
of the music to the song, Mary:
12-25, 1987 LA Rocks scans, with several RCA nods (but no direct Johnny
content) (thanks to Mike from janesaddiction.com):
Trash show review (it
is unclear whether Johnny performed at this show. He was already doing
21 Jump Street by then and not playing with the RCA regularly, but RCA
were trying to schedule around him and the Jump Street schedule when
possible. Johnny was definitely back for a July 4 show at the
White Trash shortly after this one)
of RCA (without Johnny)
Some Johnny-related RCA magazine blurbs: