Detroit rock and roll pioneer Johnny Powers dies at 84

Johnny Powers liked to say, “They called me a Northern Yankee with a Southern heart.”

Powers, the singer and guitarist who emerged in the mid-1950s as one of the early pioneers of rock and roll in Detroit, died Monday at his home in northern Michigan after a series of health problems. He was 84 years old.

Best known for his work with such iconic labels as Detroit’s Fortune Records and Memphis’ Sun Records, Powers retained a passionate international cult following his later years. Best known for songs like “Long Blond Hair” and “Honey Let’s Go (To a Rock and Roll Show)”, he continued to espouse a style and sound that harken back to the Metro Detroit era of sailing, recording hops and driving. hamburger joints.

Powers went on to work for Motown Records in the 1960s before starting his own business with a pair of Detroit studio and song publishing interests.

Along with his Detroit peers like Jack Scott and Don Rader, Powers was among the group of musicians who made the transition from country music to rock and roll in the 1950s, helping pave the way for the rise of Southeast Michigan as a rock center.

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