Crate Diggers Phoenix Spotlight: Johnny D.

by SoLil

Discogs sponsored Crate Diggers Record Fair makes its Phoenix debut on November 11th, 2017 at Crescent Ballroom! Coming in hot on the heels of Crate Diggers’ LA debut and Chicago date, Crate Diggers Phoenix is the ultimate event for record collectors, vinyl junkies, and music fans! The day begins with a record fair featuring 30+ vendors and 12 local DJs, then moves into an after party, featuring Kenny DopeBreakbeat Lou, and DJ Day!

With Crate Diggers Phoenix coming up this weekend, we’d like to introduce you to one of the vendors and daytime DJs, John Dixon, better known as Johnny D! Johnny is a music historian who, apart from building an extensive record collection, has hosted radio shows and built an archive dedicated to Arizona related music. Catch him playing some of his favorite 45s or browse through his crates at Crescent Ballroom this Saturday!

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I grew up in Tempe and started playing records in the 8th grade, played in bands and was working for a record distributor when I was at ASU. I worked for ABC/Dunhill and Capitol Records in L.A. in the 70s before returning to Phoenix in 1980 and worked for Evening Star productions babysitting bands until 2000.  I was the program director of radio stations  K-15 in 1980 and KEYX in 1987

Over the years, on several stations, I’ve had a weekly “R&B with Johnny D.” show. Years ago Z-Trip got me on stage at Nits’a Hideaway spinning live at his farewell show. I got the bug again and have been occasionally doing live shows here with D-Jents and Smeezy.

I’m strictly Old School, playing records all the way through and then starting another while talking over intros and outros… for me it’s just like doing a radio show on stage. What a concept!! I sell online and do the local record shows too. I went to the Austin Record Convention twice a year for 22 years and that was a great way to find great records and meet other dealers from all over the world.

Most recently I have been involved with sync-licensing vintage music that I control.  So it’s been a case of a hobby turning into a wonderful career. I just turned 71 and I’m having more fun than ever.

Crate Diggers Phoenix Johnny D

You have a site, azmusicdude.com, the Arizona Music Archive. Why and how did you start the archive?
Over the years I have assembled a lot of information on record labels and I wanted to share my extensive Arizona related discography with anyone interested. That was the genesis, and I just started adding links to other sites I liked and information about the vinyl/CD releases I have been producing over the years.

There are also playlists from my past five years of radio shows and the year long run of The Audio Ranch shows are there now as podcasts, which is cool. Over the years I’ve done many shows spotlighting all kinds of Arizona music and musicians and this information is always available to anyone who’s interested. Also it has become a platform to let folks know about the items that I sell on eBay.

What is so special about the Arizona music scene? 
The most important thing, besides the singers and bands of course, is the famous “twangy” guitar sound developed here in 1958 by Duane Eddy and Lee Hazlewood at Audio Recorders on 7th Street. I call it “The Twang Heard Around The World” and you can hear that sound on so many records over the years.

What does your own record collection look like?
In a word: extensive. Over the years I’ve collected lots of records, and you must remember that in the good old days, records were “free” to radio and retail and I really made the most of that situation. I started to focus on anything from Arizona about 30 years ago (anything and everything from Square Dance, MOR, High School bands, Gospel, acetates, air checks etc.) and then I started collecting CDs of this same music and posters, flyers, radio charts, sheet music, photos… you get the idea.

I have a “record barn” in the back yard that houses most of my collection now and the garage is full of records for record shows like this one. Heavy on R&B and jazz albums and 45s.  The largest collection of Arizona related music in the world.

Which release in your collection is most precious to you and why? 
So hard to say as there are many one of a kind discs. My complete Artco Records set, (Dyke, Eddie Campbell, The Traditions and Ernie Johnson) is pretty cool, Spiders (Alice Cooper) acetates and then there’s my one of a kind “The Fool” 45 by Sanford Clark on MCI yellow wax.

Can you reveal what type of music you’ll be selling Crate Diggers Phoenix?
I’m bringing a table full of classic R&B and Soul 45s, as I really enjoy that style of music. Most are only $2.00, with a couple of boxes of “better” records. I will bring my Arizona 45s box (all styles) and all of my various Arizona CDs that I’ve done over the years. I’ll have lots of fresh copies of my latest vinyl Funky repro, “Ham Hocks And Beans” by Chuck Womack & The Sweet Souls, on the Ramco label.

Will you be doing some digging yourself? What are you hoping to find?
I’m making a run on Blue Note and Prestige 45s so I’m always looking to upgrade of fill in some holes. Always looking for any songs about Arizona too.

Any holy grail record that is still missing from your collection?
I have all of the really rare vinyl titles now, so it’s probably something that I don’t even know about!

Anything else you’d like us to know?
I’m looking forward to yaking about Arizona records of course, and Soul/R&B/Jazz of all kinds. I’ll be spinning a short set of some of my favorite vinyl 45s too!

Be sure not to miss Crate Diggers Phoenix on November 11th, 2017 at Crescent Ballroom! The epic FREE event begins with a record fair from 12-6PM. Catch Johnny D and more local DJs there while they play all vinyl DJ sets. Vendors can book a table for the fair here. The After Party is from 9PM until 2AM and features all vinyl DJ sets by Breakbeat Lou, DJ Day and Kenny Dope!

Crate Diggers Phoenix promo poster