Billy Johnson, former drummer for Reggie And The Full Effect, died Tuesday night (Feb. 13). The cause of death is currently unknown. In addition to playing with Reggie for 10 years, Johnson was a prominent figure in the Kansas City, Missouri, music scene, having done stints with outfits as diverse as Rocket Fuel Is The Key, Shots Fired and Onward Christian Glover. "If your band needed a drummer in a hurry, you called Billy," says Reggie founder James Dewees. "He learned your set in six hours and you had a gig.
"No matter what alley we always walked down, we had each others back," recalls Dewees about their friendship. "We always made it out okay, because I knew we always had each others' backs." It was Johnson who introduced Dewees to the Kansas City scene, taking him to various local shows. Dewees recalled one story where Johnson fought six security guards at a local club after one of them had fondled his then-girlfriend. "I started calling him ‘the Matrix’ because it was like watching Neo fight."
Johnson had to leave the band in 2014 after a shoulder surgery left him unable to play without pain. Dewees told AP that Johnson was so dedicated to playing in the band, he was devastated to have to bow out three days before a tour. "It was a small scene and we all supported each other. He was one of my best friends. Everybody in town loved him."
Dewees shared a statement on the Full Effect Facebook page, and you can read it in full below:
Here's a clip of Johnson playing "37" with the Full Effect on toy instruments during the Cleveland stop on the No Country For Old Musicians tour in 2014. Our condolences go to his wife Alia as well as their children, friends, fans and all the musicians who had the opportunity to play with him.