Saturday, January 13, 2007

Guitar Red My Fantasy Mod Art

The 3rd Mod Art side I am featuring was inspired by reading a blog called Captain's Crate which raved over the Guitar Red track "Hard Times" in a post about the Mod Art posts on the Funk & Soul blog.

I thought I would feature "My Fantasy" another side off Guitar Red's "Hard Times" album which is the extended version of his original Mod Art 45 release. I first heard "My Fantasy" in 1976 when obscure releases were starting to get more regular spins on the Northern Soul scene. Other Chicago tracks which got plays during this time which stick in my mind are Mac Simmons "Turning Point", Lovelites "Get It Off My Conscience" and Sidney Thomas Look, Let's Make Love".

Guitar Red is actually Paul Johnson who has long been a Chicago resident. He is a talented multi-instumentalist and plays all the instruments on the "Hard Times" album having first taught himself to play guitar at the age of 14. In the late 50's, he began playing clubs such as the Apex Show club in Robbins, Illinois before getting gigs at clubs in Chicago including Rumboogie, The Happy Medium, The Pump Room and the Regal Theatre. He got the name "Guitar Red" from a well known Chicago radio personality Lucky Cordell.

His first recording was "Red Hot Red" in 1960 and he for Excello, Formal and Checker in the early 60's including "Pretty Eyed Baby" for Checker in 1962. His early recordings gave him plenty of opportunities to build up a career on the club scene in Chicago and by the early seventies he was working full time on the supper club circuit.

The Mod Art album was recorded in 1976 and is one of the few albums on the label. It was recorded at the Enterprise Studios in Maywood, Illinois and was produced by Chuck Sibit who was responsible for writing some of the songs with Guitar Red for the album as well as being the main man behind the label.

The album does have a unique sound with heavy use of synths but what stands out is the sounds of the guitar which have a unique tone I cannot recall anywhere else.

Guitar Red gigged around Chicago and the Midwest for most of the 80's and 90's and recorded another album in 2002 which is still available from CD Baby called "Don't Forget The Love". The CD again displays the multi-instrumental talents of Paul Johnson as well as his excellent vocals .


  1. jimmy wood9:44 PM

    I played drums on the Mod Art album. I just happened into the studio and Guitar Red had all of the tracks recorded, except drums. Enter me. I then worked around Chicago with him.
    Jimmy Wood

  2. In June 2003 I interviewed Red in his basement studio. He spent several hours with me telling stories about the music scene in the 50s and 60s and playing everything from "Moonlight in Vermont" to Hendrix songs. The interview is part of a project I'm working on that documents the rise of the home-grown rock and roll scene in Chicago in the late 50s and early 60s. My first electric guitar, a used '53 Les Paul, purchased in 1961 from Zordan's Music in Roseland, was previoiusly owned by Paul. If anyone has stories from those days they want to share, contact me at Bill Bielby