Introducing the new online home for all your local death & memoriam notices
Hide
Lasting Tribute page forKelly JOHNSON
View all Photos & Videos
Kelly Johnson, who died on 15 July, 2007 aged 49 after a six-year battle against cancer, was the lead guitarist in UK heavy metal band Girlschool. Having initially joined the all-girl band alongside drummer Denise Dufort, she was barely out of her teens when it hit the big time with regular slots at major rock festivals such as Reading. The band’s ballsy, aggressive stance – a decade and a half before “Girl Power” – swiftly won it a cult following and a chart-topping record with fellow heavy metal merchants Motorhead followed. But fame ultimately proved fleeting and a move to Los Angeles in a bid to establish a solo career also faltered. Kelly Johnson was born on 20 June, 1958 and grew up in London. She attended Edmonton County School and it was here that she first took an interest in heavy metal. She enjoyed writing and playing music although it was not until she was 19 that she took her first steps to music stardom. Painted Lady, an all-girl heavy metal band, had been formed in 1977. After a reshuffle of its members, Ms Johnson joined as lead guitarist and songwriter and the band’s name was changed to Girlschool. City Records, a small record label helped Ms Johnson and her new band-members record their debut single ‘Take it all away’ in December 1978, and for the next five years Ms Johnson had to get used to being in the public spotlight. Usually dressed in a leather jacket and jeans, she was heavily involved in writing songs that would prove popular with music fans who had seemingly begun to catch on to the new wave of British heavy metal sweeping through the UK in the late 70s and early 80s. Supporting rock legends Motorhead on tour in 1979 led to an enduring collaboration, including the St Valentine’s Day Massacre EP released by the two groups under the name Headgirl. The debut album ‘Demolition’ was finally released in 1980, and three further albums followed over the next four years before the band’s popularity began to wane. Ms Johnson left the band in 1984, and moved to Los Angeles in the hope of beginning a solo career. But the reality of achieving equal fame as a solo artist fell flat and attempts to establish a new band with ex Painted Lady member Kathy Valentine also failed. Instead, Kelly Johnson started out on a new and very different career, learning sign language and working with the deaf. But the lure of the bright lights remained strong and, in 1993, Ms Johnson returned to the UK and Girlschool. It proved an inspired decision and for the next seven years she rekindled memories of her past by touring the UK and playing to diehard fans before, in 2000, she was diagnosed with cancer and forced to give up a career which had brought her both fame and happiness. 21st Anniversary: Not that innocent released in 2002, was Ms Johnson’s final appearance on a Girlschool album.
Add additional content
Memorable stories and life events
Viewed by: 3033 visitors. Uploaded: 11 years ago
Published in: Online.
Published from: July 15, 2007.
Region: National
Candle shortcandle
Left by Jimmy Pratt :
24/06/2014
Candle tallcandle
Left by Jimmy Pratt :
24/06/2014
When I heard you play for the very first time, I said: ‘Now that, is how a guitar (and especially a Gibson Les Paul) should be played! And that, is how it should sound!’ There have been only two guitarists who have had a profound influence on me — Kelly, you are one of them. It was you, who inspired me — to never give up. Kelly Johnson, you are beautiful in every way, I think of you constantly, and I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER! — Jimmy Pratt
Left by Jimmy Pratt: 09/07/2013
Candle tallcandle
Left by Noodles Aaronson :
21/06/2013
Candle shortcandle
Left by Jimmy Pratt :
18/01/2013
See more tributes
Add Tribute
Add a Photo
Add a Candle
Finish
Once submitted your tribute will be moderated before it appears online, you will then be notified via email.
File
Once submitted your tribute will be moderated before it appears online, you will then be notified via email.