Johnny Castle started out playing drums for sock hops and school dances in the early 60’s. He switched to bass in 1966, fronting high school rock bands in Texas and Oklahoma until arriving in D.C. in 1968. In the early 70’s, Johnny helped form the legendary rock group Crank, opening arena and stadium shows for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Byrds, Allman Bros., and Grand Funk R.R.
In the mid 70’s, Castle did a complete genre change and joined Eddie Adcock’s II Generation, a seminal “New Grass” group. 1979 found Johnny making another change, thumpin’ the bottom with notorious DC”Psycho-billy” legends Tex Rubinowitz & the Bad Boys. The Bad Boys soon morphed into Switchblade, with Johnny doing most of the writing and lead singing in this pop/rockabilly band that featured Ratso (Kinky Friedman) Eddie Angel (Los Straightjackets) and Steuart Smith (Eagles, Rodney Crowell) on guitars.
Johnny has toured or recorded with Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Arnold, and Joe Maphis (Bluegrass & Country) Screamin’ J. Hawkins, John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, and Catfish Hodge (Blues) and even DC legend Root Boy Slim. For twelve years, Castle performed with Washington Area Music Hall of Famers Bill Kirchen (Hot Rod Lincoln) and Too Much Fun, playing bass, singing lead and background vocals, as well as contributing his songwriting skills. They were nominated for a Grammy in ’02. In 2001 he, Bill, and drummer Jack O’Dell recorded and toured as half of the Twangbangers, with “Superpickers” Redd Volkaert, Dallas Wayne, and Joe Goldsmith.
When Kirchen moved to Austin, Texas, in early 2004, Johnny got a call from longtime friends, and Washington Area Music Hall of Famers, The Nighthawks, and now performs and records with the band, logging over 200 dates annually across the US and internationally. You can also hear him most Thursdays at the Sunset Grille, Annandale, Virginia, with his band, the Thrillbillys. Johnny also teaches bass in Columbia MD, where he loves to blast off into the countryside on his 2008 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Harley Davidson.
I played with Johnny for 15 years, over 200 gigs per (you do the math, I’m exhausted), all over the U.S. plus our two favorite foreign countries, Europe and Texas. If there is a harder-rocking, harrier-legged, higher-singing, time-keepinger bass player out there, I haven’t met him. We made 6 CDs together; check him out. You’ll see what I mean. – Bill Kirchen, legendary guitarist and Grammy nominee