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Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Tue, May 30, 2023

Neil Peart's old friend and longtime Alex Lifeson guitar tech Jimmy Johnson has passed away

Thu, Jul 25, 2019@10:39AM | comments

UPDATE - 10/1@2:24PM: Alex Lifeson had some kind words on his friend's passing in this Instagram post:

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Neil Peart's old friend and longtime Alex Lifeson guitar tech Jimmy Johnson passed away yesterday in his hotel room in southern California. Johnson had been working as a guitar tech with Styx for the past couple of decades, and the Styx Facebook page broke the news yesterday in this post:

... It is with profound sorrow that I am announcing my dear friend and right-hand man, guitar tech and inventor Jimmy Johnson, passed away in his hotel room in the early hours of the morning here today, July 24, 2019, on the Southern Coast of California. When he failed to show up for lobby call, fellow crewmembers contacted hotel management, broke into his room, and discovered him there. ... I knew he was planning on seeing his old friend and dear friend Neil Peart of Rush here yesterday. I hope he did. ...

Johnson and Peart had been friends since 1968, where Johnson was a roadie with Neil's early band The Majority, and later became Alex Lifeson's guitar tech, a role he'd keep up through 1997. Peart talks about Johnson in this post from back in 2014:

... I often think back to a "road lesson" involving one of my oldest friends, Jimmy Johnson. He and I met around 1968, when J.J. joined my second band, the Majority (ha-our booking agency's genius slogan was "Join the Majority!"), as a "roadie." A few tumultuous years later (for both of us), when I joined Rush, J.J. became Alex's guitar tech for many years-many hilarious years. The two of them were a fine comedy duo. ... But way back in the Olden Days (when dinosaurs walked the earth), in the mid '70s, Jimmy affected a mustache (as many of us did-I sported a full-on handlebar, myself). However, in the eyes of his fellow crew members, Ian and Liam, J.J. seemed to move beyond the pale when he started wearing a small scarf around his neck, knotted with a ring. They dubbed him "Tony Orlando," and the rest of us laughed and started using it, too. J.J. blurted out a line that has resonated for decades. "But I don't want to be called Tony Orlando!" Oh, we laughed and laughed. Finally somebody put him wise, "You don't get to pick your own nickname!" ...

Condolences to his family and friends. RIP J.J.