Blues icon Johno Johnson

“I’m a lot older than people think. 73 I am. I’m not young!

When you get old, some people play golf. I play the guitar, that’s the difference.”

Ian ‘Johno’ Johnson

When you talk of buskers, they don’t come more iconic than Cairns’ blues man ‘Johno’ Johnson.

Johno (that’s not my real name) Johnson is a founding member of Johno’s Blues Band. The band played venues all over the world and opened the famous Johno’s Blues Bar in Cairns.

The bar was originally in Sheridan Street before it moved for 8 years above McDonalds on the ‘nard.

The venue hosted the prime of local talent, along with a plethora of national and international acts.
Many American blues bands of the day came to play at Johno’s.

Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel opened Johno’s Blues Bar in 1989 and his brother Phil was the guest of honour in December 2007 at its final swansong. Tony Hillier of quotes Phil Emmanuel as saying: “It’s a very sad loss – Johno’s was the frontier of live music in the Far North and a very important component of the interstate and international music scene.”

If you’re lucky enough to visit Cairns, you’ll find Johno busking on the Esplanade. Be sure to toss a coin in his case. We’re glad he’s back entertaining the tourists after an accident earlier this year saw the 73 year old knocked off his pushy by a car door.

Busker What’s Your Story? You can listen to Johno tell more of his story in his own unique style above. The video is courtesy of videographer Adam Simpson and writer William Macdonald who caught up with the cheeky old music man in August.


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