2019 INDUCTEES >> JOHNNIE WALKER
Category: Individual Artist
Johnnie Walker has spent more than 43 years as a guitar player, singer, and entertainer and has the fan base to support it. With inspiration from The Beatles, Elvis, and Van Halen, Johnnie started his music career in high school with the band Chrystal. At 17, he was the youngest member as well as the lead guitarist and singer.
Next was Illusion, then Tussle in 1980. The band consisted of three brothers—Mark, Kenny, and Denny Dietzel—Joe Steil, and Johnnie. They played dance halls and high schools in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. As their audiences grew to a thousand people a night, so did their amazing reputation.
In 1986, Johnnie and Joe Steil left Tussle to create Secret Admirer. The four-piece rock ‘n roll band was short lived but had a strong regional presence. From 1986-1991 Johnnie performed lead guitar and sang vocals in Grand Slam with Dave Lambert (bass and vocals), Steve Greenwood (keyboards and vocals), and Jimmy McFarland (drums and vocals). They traveled through Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin with their tight-knit harmonies and musical expertise while playing dance halls, nightclubs and bars. Grand Slam opened for national touring acts including Badfinger and Bachman Turner Overdrive. It wasn’t unusual for more than three thousand people to turn out for Grand Slam’s outdoor concerts.
Johnnie has always been a part of great bands. As the frontman for groups like Tussle and Grand Slam, Johnnie provided the guitar chops and vocals to propel them to star status with their fans. Johnnie has also performed solo and partnered with musicians in various groups including: Dave Lambert, Joe Steil, Kevin Beck, Pat Kennedy, Ralph Kluseman, and Tony Walker. Additionally, Johnnie performed in a group named Johnnie Steil alongside Joe Steil, Mike Mason (bass and vocals), and Mike Lieb (drums and vocals). He also performed for many years in the house band the Castaways that played exclusively at the Dubuque Marina.
Johnnie was lead guitarist and vocalist in No Boundaries with Ralph Kluseman (guitar and vocals), Mike Lieb (drums and vocals), and Joe Steil (keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals). The band played the casino circuit and entertained at corporate parties for a couple years in the 2000s. A Celebration of The Beatles was a tribute band created in 2014 with Johnnie Walker as lead guitarist and vocalist, Ralph Kluseman (guitar and vocals), Mike Lieb (drums and vocals), Brian Marceau (keyboards, guitar and vocals), Denny Troy (bass and vocals), and Rick Hoffmann (additional lead guitarist). The band continues to entertain audiences with their outdoor concerts hitting over 2,000 in attendance.
Johnnie has used his influence to raise funds for Camp Albrecht Acres as part of the Rock and Roll Rewind Music Showcase and to help mentor young musicians whenever an opportunity presents itself. Johnnie continues to entertain as a solo artist regularly all over the Tri-State area and in Florida.