Johnny A. was born in Malden, Massachusetts, of Greek heritage. Growing up in the Boston area, he became interested in music, starting with drums at age six. Upon being exposed to The Beatles in 1964 at age 11, Johnny's parents bought him a $49 Lafayette Electronics guitar. He stated his last name, Antonopoulos (of Greek origin), was always getting mispronounced. "It's always been Johnny A. since age eight.”
In the 1970s, Johnny A. formed a band called the Streets, performing mostly in the Boston area. The Streets had several popular radio singles including the song "What Gives" on the station WBCN Radio "The Rock of Boston", which took the top spot on the station. As well as headlining on the Boston club scene, The Streets toured with or supported several major artists including Aerosmith and Bob Seger. The Streets also competed in the first WBCN "Rock 'n' Roll Rumble" in 1979.
1980s – 1990sIn 1980, Johnny formed the band Hidden Secret which also had a string of local hit singles including "No More Lonely Nights", which occupied the top spot on WBCN for 26 weeks.
In 1986 his next band, Hearts On Fire, placed second in the 1986 WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble only to be edged out by Gang Green, while continuing to produce local hit singles.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, while working as a sideman, Johnny played with Santana percussionist Mingo Lewis, blues and soul duo Delaney & Bonnie, Derek & the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, and had a brief stint with Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Doug Clifford. He then began a seven-year role as guitarist and musical director for the J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf. He played on Wolf's albums, and co-produced his album, Long Line, as well as joining him on world tours.
In 1999, Johnny A. launched his solo career and independently released his debut CD Sometime Tuesday Morning.
In 2000, Johnny A. signed a licensing deal to re-release his first album with Steve Vai's Favored Nations Entertainment
In 2001, Sometime Tuesday Morning was re-released on Steve Vai's Favored Nations Entertainment label Sony/RED distribution. The album spawned the #1 single "Oh Yeah" across the USA on the AAA radio format. It marked the first time in over a decade that an instrumental had achieved the top spot on radio. STM went on to sell over 100,000 copies.
In 2003, Sometime Tuesday Morning was then picked up for distribution by Danny Goldberg at Artemis Records, and Gibson Custom Guitar Company, in close collaboration with Johnny, released a "Johnny A." Signature Model guitar, designed to the artist's specifications.
Creating an artist signature model guitar is not something we take lightly. But sometimes a player comes along who is not only a musical innovator and artist of the highest-caliber, but has innovative ideas about designing a totally new instrument. And that's Johnny, who just knocked us off our feet.
— Rick Gembar, Gibson Guitars Senior VP
In 2003, Johnny A. signed a multi-record contract with Steve Vai's Sony/Red distributed Favored Nations Entertainment and saw the release of the "radio-only" promotional Johnny A. Christmas single "Sleigh Ride", released on the label.
In 2004, "Get Inside" was released on the Favored Nations Label, yielding two radio singles, "I Had To Laugh," which made the Grammy nominations ballot, and a radio edit of the title track "Get Inside."
In 2006, Warner Bros./Alfred Publishing released a Johnny A. instructional DVD entitled "Taste, Tone, Space."
In 2007, Gibson Custom guitar company released a second Johnny A. signature guitar, the Johnny A. Standard.
In 2010, Johnny A. released "One November Night" (2010 Aglaophone Records), a live DVD/CD set recorded at Sculler's Jazz in his hometown of Boston, MA. In 2010, Johnny also became the recipient of The Boston Music Award's Blues Artist of the Year 2010.
In 2014, Johnny A. released, "Driven", (June 3, 2014), marking his engineering debut as well as mixing, producing and playing all the instruments on the album. On December 14, 2014, Johnny was inducted into the Boston Music Hall of Fame at the Boston Music Awards. The same year, Gibson Custom released a "new" version of the Johnny A. Standard.
In 2015, Johnny A. joined rock'n'roll band The Yardbirds, touring and playing with the group as a guitarist, a role previously held by world-famous musicians Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck. On July 23, 2018, after playing with the band for three years, he announced on his website, “The Yardbirds will not be needing [his] services any longer.” He also stated he will not be appearing at any future Yardbirds performances. The Yardbirds hired New York guitarist Godfrey Townsend to take his place soon after.
Johnny's style often recalls Danny Gatton as well as some aspects of Jeff Beck and Pat Martino. He encompasses elements of rock, jazz, and blues, and he often uses a whammy bar. He cites artists such as The Beatles, The Yardbirds, Everly Brothers, Wes Montgomery, Chet Atkins, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Les Paul as many of his musical influences.
Artist information lifted from Wiki