Guillermo Prieto, IROCKPHOTOS.NET
Big Dave Johnson Credit: Guillermo Prieto, IROCKPHOTOS.NET

If you’ve ever been to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, you’ve probably noticed their security man, Big Dave Johnson. He’s also the bassist for Shawn Mafia and the 10 Cent Thrills. While Big Dave doesn’t tolerate nonsense of any kind at a Pappy’s show, he’s actually quite friendly—and many of the regular patrons always chat him up. Speaking of chatting: Big Dave was kind enough to recently answer The Lucky 13. For more information on Pappy and Harriet’s, visit; for more on Shawn Mafia and the 10 Cent Thrills, head on over to

What was the first concert you attended?

Monsters of Rock in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1984. I remember it well. Mötley Crue was the opener, (followed by) Accept, Gary Moore, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen—and AC/DC was the headliner. The crowd was crazy! It’s one of my favorite memories, even though I got into a fight over a girl.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I owned wasn’t even an album—it was an 8-track that I got from Kmart, The Knack’s Get the Knack with “My Sharona.” That song was huge when it came out.

What bands are you listening to right now?

The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Ramones, Roger Barrett, some Black Sabbath, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Doors, The Weirdos, and Glen Campbell. I also have this ’60s garage-band psychedelic album that a friend of mine gave me. It’s all interesting and sets the mood for me when I’m nostalgic, getting to working, or when I want to relax and let my mind go. Throw in some David Bowie or the Stooges, too—oh, and James Brown! That’s the ticket!

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I get it all. I can see why people like jazz, blues, funk, punk, hip-hop, country, indie rock, etc. I like them for what they are, but the best music for me is still that ’60s and ’70s rock ’n’ roll.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

If I had my choice right now, it would be Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett. However, if it’s a band that’s current, the Creepy Creeps were a blast. I could see them again and again!

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I’m going to say Pappy and Harriet’s, for obvious reasons.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Look out, mama, there’s a white boat coming up the river,” from “Powderfinger,” by Neil Young; and, “Padding around on the ground. He’ll be found when you’re around,” from “Lucifer Sam,” by Pink Floyd.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Two Lane Blacktop, and Brett Balaban. He is like a jukebox, and it’s been so much fun playing music with him over the years—10 years this year, in fact. He’s taught me about writing and keeping music fun.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Syd Barrett: “What was your inspiration for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Again, “Blister in the Sun,” Violent Femmes. (Scroll down to hear it.)

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A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...