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Johnny Powers

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Born John Leon Joseph Pavlik in 1938 in East Detroit, MI, he was the oldest of five children. The family later moved to the small town of Utica, MI, just north of Detroit.

Pavlik was exposed to music from an early age by members of his father’s family, who all played music for weddings and local dances. It was country music, however, that first drew Pavlik into music on a personal level; he discovered Lonnie Baron, a veteran country singer with a show on local radio and would listen and try to play along with a guitar that he’d bought for $2. 50 from a school mate Tony Lawson who is now a neighbor. He later got some helpful instructions from Marvin Maynard, a musician who moved from West Virginia to Utica, MI.

In 1953, at age 15, Pavlik met Russ Williams Jr., a guitar player for his brothers band, Jimmy Williams and the Drifters, a local country band that played at a local venue called Bill’s Barn and got a featured radio show on WDOG, a radio station out of Marine City, MI. They became good friends. Pavlik then joined the band as a rhythm guitar player. He also played rhythm guitar on two single records recorded by the band, “Rainbow Heart,” “Teardrops and Memories,” and “Loveless Kisses,” and ” Dream on Little Heart.” But it wasn’t long before rock & roll attracted Pavlik; it was Jack Scott’s recording, “Baby She’s Gone,” that drew him into rock & roll.

Courtesy of Russ Williams Jr., Pavlik discovered Elvis Presley when he was still a Memphis-based phenomenon.

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