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
where he formed his first band THE SHADES playing all kinds of music at
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
Posted June, 2003:
"Bear's Greatest Hits"
25 of Johnny's favorites ... many previously unrealeased
$18 - Available from
P.O. Box 1883
Nederland, TX 77627
JOHNNY PRESTON AT THE
By Barry Dixon
CHICAGO ROCK CAFE, SOUTHAMPTON
TUESDAY 2nd FEBRUARY 1999.
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
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.
RUNNING BEAR - JOHNNY PRESTON BEAR FAMILY - BCD 15473
CRADLE OF LOVE
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
UP IN THE AIR
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
BROKEN HEART ANONYMOUS
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®