JOHNSON & DRAKE
Long before Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Morris Day put the Minnesota music scene on the national map, Tom Johnson and Guy Drake were among many songwriters and performers working hard to get heard in the frozen, forgotten north. Their group, The Johnson and Drake Band, toured the Midwest and the south for years as either the opening or the headlining act, primarily at colleges and universities. They performed with, among others, Earth, Wind and Fire, REO Speedwagon, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Stevens, John Hartford, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show, The Grass Roots, Bonnie Raitt, and Jim Croce.
In 1973, due to a freak last minute change of plans, Guy and his partner, Tom Johnson, flew briefly back to Minneapolis and left the Jim Croce tour for two days to re-shoot the cover of their LP, "Carry It On." On the second night, September 20, 1973, Croce's plane crashed, killing everyone on board, including close friend and road manager, Kenny Cortese, and the opening act performer who had replaced them on the tour, comedian George Stevens.
The Johnson and Drake Band reeled from the tragedy, and both recording artists went their separate ways, moving to different parts of the country. For the next two decades, Drake performed and wrote as part of church retreats, choirs, and Sunday services, and stayed far out of the limelight. A series of debilitating surgeries in the late eighties and early nineties, including four reconstructive surgeries to his right and left hands, resulted in an extended period from when he was unable to play the guitar without experiencing days of pain afterwards. Tom Johnson continued writing music and made a career in digital music software. For a brief time in the mid 1980’s both artists landed back in Minneapolis and wrote and recorded their eponymous album, “Johnson & Drake.”