Roger Johnston

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Roger Johnston, drummer with the Monks, died in the same month of 2004 as a great number of turkeys. Irreverence should of course be part of the first sentence of an obituary of any member of this band,…
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Roger Johnston, drummer with the Monks, died in the same month of 2004 as a great number of turkeys. Irreverence should of course be part of the first sentence of an obituary of any member of this band, who shaved the tops of their heads to look like monks and performed ditties such as "I Hate You" and "Shut Up," co-written by Johnston, as was much of the band's set list. He succumbed to lung cancer following a long battle in which one of his lungs was removed prior to a reunion tour. His surviving bandmates would probably not find it in bad taste -- or anything in bad taste for that matter -- if fellow one-lungers in the music business were mentioned, choice company indeed when such a list includes Charlie Feathers, Frank Lowe, Link Wray, and Keith Relf.

The Monks represent a fascinating part of rock history that goes well beyond the lack of organs, the ones inside your body and not the ones garage rock bands feature as part of their instrumental lineups. Five American soldiers stationed in Germany started playing rock & roll together in the early '60s, initially as the Five Torquays. Once mustered out of the service, the band that became the Monks decided to stay in Deutschland and make a living playing music, sometimes opening shows for the Kinks and Jimi Hendrix. The group was innovative, foreshadowing many elements of what would eventually be called punk rock, Johnston's drumming style included. His pounding on tom-toms has been compared to Ikue Mori in the early days of the DNA band as well as the soundtrack to a Tarzan film. Johnston plays on all of the group's recordings.