Local Current Blog

Vick Johnson, local guitarist known for playing with Curtiss A, dies at 59

Vick Johnson, a local guitarist known for playing with Curtiss A, died of cancer Thursday morning. He was 59.

Johnson was a longtime member of Curtiss A’s band, which plays a yearly John Lennon tribute concert at First Avenue. He lent his guitar and vocals to other Curtiss A acts and played in many original and cover groups since the late 1970s. He died of liver cancer unrelated to alcohol, leaving behind his wife, Cindy, and their three adult children, the Star Tribune reported.

Other local bands Johnson played in include Hipbone, Stray Voltage, and the Sleepers. He performed in Curtiss A’s group Amen and d’Gadband, whose single “No Money, No Future” played on local radio stations in the late ’70s.

“He was the kind of guy who would have the portable record player with him on the school bus as a kid, and all the kids would gather around him to hear what he was playing,” Curtiss A told the Star Tribune.

In August 2014, Johnson released an album called Out in the Shadows. A varied throwback to the ’70s, its songs range from the bright and twangy “Con Man” to the poppy and soulful “Hard to Hide” and steady and powerful “(Let it all) Slip Away,” the song Johnson is said to have been most proud of.

In a memorial event Sunday at the Hopkins VFW, Curtiss A played a song he wrote to honor Johnson, according to a friend. Plans are also coming together for a musical tribute, and details will be announced soon, the Star Tribune reported.

Listen to The Current’s Local Show this Sunday night between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., when David Campbell will play a song by Johnson.

Hailey Colwell is a journalism major at the University of Minnesota and a co-director of Theatre Corrobora.