SongVault Artist Profile
Darryl St. John
Wisconsin, United States
Rock & Roll / Electric Blues
Darryl St. John first picked up a guitar at age 21. From this early experimentation with a Gretsch Tennessean, he has made an unforgettable imprint on the local music scene. An ad posted on the bulletin board at Tech School for a guitarist led to Darryl’s first band, Junction. Part-time shoe salesman and guitarist, Darryl’s first professional gig was on July 4, 1971 in Escanaba, Michigan.
A disastrous car accident in April ‘72 put Darryl in the hospital for months, and Junction was disbanded. Released in November, he soon formed another band, Atlantic Mine. After undergoing some renovations, Atlantic Mine found their niche doing covers in the clubs, noted mainly for their Led Zeppelin repertoire. During this time, they also began introducing some of Darryl’s original songs. The band developed a friendly rivalry with Cheap Trick and often played the same venues until a series of personal tragedies among the band members forced them to disband in November ‘77.
A period of serious introspection after the breakup of Atlantic Mine convinced Darryl that a move to New York City was the next step in his career. He and a vocalist friend, however, were defeated by the explosive punk rock bands that had recently overwhelmed the New York music scene, and he returned to the Midwest and retired from music for 3 years. He ended this hiatus by playing with the band Metamorphosis, and was soon back into the groove of being a professional musician.
A musician’s search in ’83 teamed Darryl up with a drummer from New Orleans and Tears was formed, complete with keyboards, doing 80’s covers and some originals. In ‘85, Darryl was offered a job with Dazed & Confused, a new Led Zeppelin tribute band from Milwaukee. He left Dazed & Confused in ’86 to form local band Red Light Fright.
In ‘89 Darryl moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and created a name for himself at the clubs playing jams. His talent and unique style attracted the attention of Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Peter Tork, Ronnie Montrose and Davey Pattison, among others. He was invited to play with Neal Schon as a regular, and joined Davey Pattison’s band. During this time he also recorded an album with the band Alcivar, whose members were from Montrose, Robin Trower, Sammy Hagar and Gamma. When Davey Pattison rejoined Gamma in ‘92, Darryl returned to Wisconsin. He joined Black Dog and within days began working the club circuit, including a 2-month stint in Canada.
The band upkeep and hectic touring schedule led to the breakup of Black Dog, and Darryl took a sabbatical, using the time to rediscover the acoustic guitar, and compose new songs. Over the next years he experimented with acoustic formats and different local musicians, including work with Acoustically Speaking and Dog & Shovel. The only electric project was Northern Distortion, a showcase of some of the area’s best guitarists.
His current ongoing project is Acoustic Solo, featuring classic rock in an original format, and he has played in gigs with The Blue Cats and Dave Steffen Band. A comprehensive sampling of Darryl’s writing and electric and acoustic guitar work can be heard on ‘The Basement Tapes’, a CD that covers a variety of recording sessions over the years.