Johnny was born on December 5, 1965 in Buffalo, New York. He was one of five
children; the youngest child and only boy. His sisters are Phyllis (48), Fran (46), Glad (43), and Kate (42). His father,
Joseph, was a post office clerk and a regular at local bars like the Three Deuces. His mother, Edith, was a school teacher
at Johnny's catholic grade school. When Johnny was 7, his mother bought him an accordion. He got beat up a lot for that, so
she bought him a guitar when he was about 11 or 12. Edith was hard on Joe and there was a lot of turmoil in their marriage.
Johnny's father was a violent man. Often after being at a bar for most of the night, Joe would come home and beat up on his
wife and children. Once when Johnny was 14, his father hit his mother, Johnny hit his father, and his mother hit Johnny. She
said, "You dont do that to your father, you respect your father." Johnny had more than his fair share to rebel against, so
he was a troublemaker. He would act out against his dad by vandalism. (Once he smeared blacktop fluid all over a Funeral Parlor).
He would also steal money from his father's wallet.
When he was a sophomore at Buffalo's McKinley High School, his already shaky home life shattered, and would never be the same
again. His father was 53 and got pneumonia and fell into a diabetic coma. He died due to complications from alcoholism and
diabetes. His sisters were upset, but Johnny was too angry to grieve. That emotion came later, but it was not for him. As
his family was struggling to recover from his father's death, his mother (who was a smoker and overweight) died from a massive
heart attack. She was 51 years old. He remembers thinking, "Where am I going to go and what am I going to do?" He had his
sisters, but they were still young, too. He was an orphan at age 15. He had no other family, so his oldest sister became his
legal guardian. She found him an apartment around Buffalo State College. At 17, he was on his own. He had a little money from
his deceased parents, enough for rent, groceries, and clothes. He was also a total wreck - and it showed. He was a punk in
high school. Friends often came to the rescue. He was often skipping school. He thought, "Who do I have to answer to?" Three
or four nights a week, he would drink beer until he blacked out. He was too young to have learned from his father's mistakes.
"What happened next is the basis for why I believe in God."
"Just as things started to get dark, someone was sent there to help me. You dont make it through a nightmare like mine and
end up with this kind of success without figuring out that someone had a plan for me." Friends introduced him to other people
who liked the same kind of music that he did. "I started playing with them in garage bands and for the first time in my life,
I had something I really cared about; songwriting and playing music." After he graduated, his girlfriend helped him apply
to Buffalo State College. It did not stick with him, as he dropped out freshman year.
During that time Johnny met another student and heavy metal bassist named Robby Takac. When they were 19 they hooked up with
drummer George Tutuska and formed the Sex Maggots. (Read more about this in the bands biography.) "Every day, I am reminded
of my dad and his alcoholism, and my struggle with his legacy. In every city we play, there is a party. Radio programmers,
record executives, friends - everybody wants to buy you a beer. When I was in my teens, I could have drunk them under the
table. But I'm ever conscience of what happened to my dad. When you release how much destruction it can cause to not only
yourself, but also the people around you, it's like, why bother?"
"A few years ago, I went to see my sisters and they told me that they had talked to some people who knew my grandfather (father's
father)." They had said that Joseph's father had died when Joseph was only 9, and Joseph's father had owned a bar. Joe was
looking forward to owning the bar someday. But when Joe was in the army, his mother sold the bar, robbing Joe of his dream.
"He was never quite the same after that. That gave me closure at a lot of levels." Now 40, Johnny and the Goos have released
their 8th album, Let Love In, which Johnny contributed 9 of the 11 great songs.