Few outside of the Massachusetts area, besides scattered die-hard fans, know who John Fannon is, but they should. He’s been making engaging and emotive music for more than four decades. Fannon began his journey to music as so many did: An injury as a teen put a guitar in his hands and he never looked back. Even a two-year stint in college studying Aerospace Engineering could not overcome his call to music.
While Fannon would be involved in many projects through the late 60s and early 70s, it would not be until 1976 that the tide would shift. No longer content to perform for other acts as a side man, he formed New England along with friend and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo. Fannon would handle guitar and vocal duties and the addition of drummer Hirsh Gardner and bassist Gary Shea completed the line-up.
New England’s debut album would be released in 1979, and marked the debut production effort by Kiss frontman Paul Stanley. Stanley had help in the form of legendary producer, Mike Stone (Queen, Kiss, Asia, Journey). Few bands can boast such production talent for a debut record.
The eponymous album showcased Fannon’s gift for writing catchy, memorable rock songs. The first single, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya”, became a classic top 40 and AOR hit. New England would tour with Kiss, Journey, Styx, AC/DC and other giants of the era. Two more albums would follow; 1980’s “The Explorer Suite”, which Fannon co-produced with Stone; and 1981’s “Walking Wild”, produced by Todd Rundgren.
All three New England albums showcased lush vocals, strong melodies and gifted performances, but alas, New England somehow slipped through the cracks of their mainstream contemporaries like Asia, Journey, Foreigner, et al.
A changing musical landscape led to the dissolution of the band to other projects. Waldo and Shea would join Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow's Graham Bonnet and Iron Maiden's Clive Burr in forming Alcatrazz in 1983. Meanwhile Fannon would answer the call to production. As a producer and audio engineer, Fannon has had great success over the year’s even winning a Post-Production Audio Engineering Emmy Award in 2007. He manages his own Explorersuite Recording Studio.
Still, his guitar has remained a constant companion, and now 30 years since he last recorded with New England, John is recording his debut solo album, “Saved All The Pieces”. The album finds him reconnecting with his earliest roots, and The Beatles influence is a significant part of Fannon’s own signature and voice. The first song released from the album, “Just Run” was written with his old friend, Jimmy Waldo. The song can be heard below.
Keep an eye on this column for a forthcoming interview with John Fannon.
Learn more at http://johnfannon.com
Subscribe to this column to stay up to date on all things rock and roll.
Music is the universal language: Speak it loudly!
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.