JOHNNY PRESTON

By Barry Dixon


JOHNNY PRESTON (Real Name John Preston Courville) was born in PORT ARTHUR TEXAS, on the 18th AUGUST 1939. His family background was a mixture of Cajun and German. After he finished high school he went on to Lamar State College in Beaumont where he formed his first band THE SHADES playing all kinds of music at local dances.

Johnny became good friends with THE BIG BOPPER (J.P. Richardson) who was killed in a plane crash with BUDDY HOLLY and RITCHIE VALENS in 1959. The Big Bopper had written a song called Running Bear, which he offered to Johnny after hearing him singing with his band in a local club. The song was recorded at the Gold Star Studios in Houston Texas in 1958. The producer on the recording session was Bill Hall and the personnel was JOHNNY PRESTON (vocal) LINK DAVIS (saxophone) and THE BIG BOPPER, BILL HALL and GEORGE JONES on Indian chants.

Johnny was signed to Mercury records and Running Bear was released in August 1959 and he left the Shades to go solo. The song took a while to take off but it went on to he a million seller. It made No 1 in the USA and ENGLAND in 1960. The follow up to Running Bear was a song written by Jack Fautheree and Wayne Gray called CRADLE OF LOVE which went on to be a hit. With these hit records Johnny made his first of many visits to England in 1960 on a package show with CONWAY TWITTY and FREDDY CANNON.

He went on to record many songs for Mercury which included CHARMING BILLY, LEAVE MY KITTEN ALONE, 1 WANT A ROCK AND ROLL GUITAR, CHIEF HEARTBREAK, FEEL SO FINE, HEARTS OF STONE and many more. After MERCURY, Preston went on to record for IMPERIAL, HALLWAY, and KAPP where his dream came true to record with THE GREAT BOB WILLS.

Johnny Preston still lives in Texas and is still performing. He was in England in l998 on a package show with LITTLE EVA, BRIAN HYLAND, BOBBY VEE, and CHRIS MONTEZ, and in January and February of 1999 he was touring the UK again.








Posted June, 2003:

JOHNNY PRESTON
"Bear's Greatest Hits"
25 of Johnny's favorites ... many previously unrealeased
$18 - Available from
JOHNNY PRESTON
P.O. Box 1883
Nederland, TX 77627






JOHNNY PRESTON AT THE
CHICAGO ROCK CAFE, SOUTHAMPTON
TUESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY 1999.

By Barry Dixon

I have always liked the music of Johnny Preston, so it was a nice surprise to find out that he was playing in the UK again, so soon after touring here late last year. So 1 decided to go to Southampton where he was appearing at the newly opened Chicago Rock Cafe.

After spending 20 minutes talking to Johnny backstage it was time to go out front to watch the show. Backed by the Class of 58 (guitar, double bass, saxophone, and drums) he went straight into Running Bear much to the delight of the audience, followed by Charming Billy, Cradle of Love, Chief Heartbreak, and It's Only Make Believe, a nice tribute to the late Conway Twitty.

By this time some of the audience started dancing which was great as it gave the show a bit more atmosphere, and Johnny seemed to be enjoying himself. More songs followed, Leave My Kitten Alone, I Want A Rock And Roll Guitar, Hearts Of Stone, and nice versions of You'll Never Walk Alone, and Feel So Fine, after a few more songs he finished as he started with Running Bear.

After a very enjoyable show and saying goodbye to Johnny I made my way home. All credit to the Class of '58 who did a superb job backing Johnny Preston and to the Southampton Rock 'n' Roll Club who put the show on.

Johnny Preston will be back in the UK later this year on a package show with Little Richard, Brian Hyland, Bobby Vee, Little Eva, and Chris Montez.





RECOMMENDED CD
  • RUNNING BEAR - JOHNNY PRESTON BEAR FAMILY - BCD 15473
    CHARMING BILLY
    RUNNING BEAR
    CRADLE OF LOVE
    CHIEF ]HEARTBREAK
    MY HEART KNOWS
    THAT'S ALL 1 WANT
    JUST LITTLE BOY BLUE
    LEAVE MY KITTEN ALONE
    SITTIN HERE CRYING
    I WANT A ROCK AND ROLL GUITAR
    HEARTS OF STONE
    DO WHAT YOU DID
    I PLAYED AROUND WITH MY LOVE
    CHOSEN FEW
    UP IN THE AIR
    KISSIN' TREE
    FOUR LETTER WORD
    FEEL SO GOOD (FEEL SO FINE)
    SHE ONCE BELONGED TO ME
    A NEW BABY FOR CHRISTMAS
    CITY OF TEARS
    I'M STARTIN' TO GO STEADY WITH THE BLUES DREAM
    MADRE DE DIOS (MOTHER OF GOD)
    YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE
    DANNY BOY
    BROKEN HEART ANONYMOUS





  • Rockabilly Hall of Fame