My friend Brian Johnston died on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. He was 52 years old.
|Brian Johnston, in a recent photo|
I met Brian at Langley High School when I was a junior. We bonded over music and synthesizers.
Brian had an Ensoniq Mirage, the first "affordable" digital sampler. I had a Casio CZ-101 and a drum machine. Together, we started a synth band project, called The Panther Moderns, the name stolen from William Gibson's "Neuromancer".
We got a spot in the high school talent show that year, and performed a cover of Faith No More's "We Care A Lot". It was my first time performing as a lead singer, and my first time performing in a rock band. It was a life-changing experience.
That one performance led to my being asked to join Darow Han's band. Brian would go on to join Jesus Wept. We remained friends through high school, hanging out, and going to each other's shows (when we weren't playing at the same ones!).
I remember Brian as a thoughtful and relatively quiet guy, with sad, expressive eyes and a kind of Nicholas-Cage-in-Valley-Girl charisma and emotional core. He was also very funny when he wanted to be.
|The author (l) and Brian Johnston reprising "We Care A Lot" in 1987.|
Over the last decade or two, Brian and I communicated once or twice a year, usually over email. A few years ago, we had discussed starting a new collaboration, an updating of our original synth duo project. Our responsibilities got in the way for both of us, and after some false starts, we reluctantly agreed it wasn't the right time.
I wish I had more time with him, to hear more about how he was doing, to make more art together. I am grateful for the time I did have, and for his inspiration and life-changing impact.
Thank you, Brian.