Friday, January 11, 2013

Sammy Johns Chevy Van Singer Has Died At Age 66

Sammy Johns, remembered for his 1975 hit, "Chevy Van" (#5), died Friday, January 4, 2013 of unnamed causes at a hospital in Gastonia, North Carolina at the age of 66. 

Born in Charlotte, Sammy grew up in Gaston County, North Carolina and performed and recorded with his own group-- the Devilles-- while still in high school. After high school, he moved to Atlanta and secured a contract with General Recording Corporation (GRC Records). His first single, "Early Morning Love," reached #68 in 1974. It was followed by "Chevy Van," which actually had been recorded in 1973. Sammy said it was about a compilation of events, not a real incident, but the story of a hitchhiking beauty "making love in my Chevy van" struck a nerve with the record-buying public (so much so, that a 1988 re-make by Sammy reached #80 on the country charts). His follow-up, "Rag Doll" only reached #52 in 1975 and a move to Warner/Curb Records (because of GRC's financial troubles) yielded little success- no doubt due to his public battles with alcohol, drugs and divorce. He continued writing, however, penning Waylon Jennings' "America" and "Common Man" for John Conlee.