A brief history:
John(ny) Barker began his musical career in 1964 with The Catalinas from Charlotte, still managed and owned by
his brother Gary. In 1980 he joined Raleigh's Embers and along with bassist/music director Gerald Davis,
co-produced The Embers albums
of the 1980s, including "Colours", "This One's For You", "Christmas
Memories", "Live at the Landmark" and others. This "80s" version of The Embers, with Jackie Gore, Bobby Tomlinson, Johnny Hopkins,
Gerald Davis, Craig Woolard, and Johnny Barker set the standard for the genre. The 80s were truly the magical decade for The Embers. Johnny joined former Catalinas band mate Earl Dawkins in 1991, where he was music
director, keyboardist/producer and vocalist with Charlotte’s, The
Entertainers for the next 14 years. Then in 2005 another 11 months with The Embers,
then on to The Legends of Beach for 6 years after which The Johnny Barker Band was formed. Then finally the circle completed
when he re-joined The Catalinas in May of 2014.
Any fan of Carolina Beach Music knows the song, that he penned
and co-produced in 1975 with Wayne Jurnegan at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC, the trend setting "Summertime's Callin’
Me" on Sugarbush records, (yes, a 45) first recorded by The
Catalinas. According to BMI, it is still played regularly on radio stations, internet
streams and iPods around the world and was listed in Rolling Stone magazine as the number 6 most popular Beach Music song
ever. It is a song
that was the first of it’s kind and is credited for being partially responsible for the new direction of "Carolina Beach Music" that followed.
No doubt that’s part of the reason JB was presented with the “Lifetime Achievment Award” at the Carolina
Beach Music Awards in 2003.
vocal rendition/arrangement of “Summerwind”, originally recorded by Frank Sinatra, was one of the top ten most
popular Beach Music songs of 2007 according to 94.9, The Surf in Myrtle Beach. You can hear his keyboards, playing & arrangements
in music by The Embers, JD Cash, Craig
Woolard, Paul Craver, The Catalinas, Sea Cruise, Gary Brown, Bill Deal & The Rhondels, Shaggie Maggie, Second Nature,
Ronnie North (America’s Got Talent), Tim Hildebrand and The Band of Oz. He has
appeared on shows with The Temptations, The Four Tops, Sonny & Cher, Little Anthony & the Imperials, The Tams, Chairmen
of the Board, The Shirelles, The Marveletts, Herman’s Hermits, Lee Dorsey, Wilson
Picket, Rufus Thomas, James Brown, Barry White, Bobby Hebb, Martha Reeves, Sugarloaf, Dionne Warwick, The Muppets Orchestra,
Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Walker, The Guess Who, The North Carolina Symphony, and
of course thousands of parties, concerts, weddings, and at just about any function you can imagine for the past 4+ decades.
Johnny Barker and the "recording" Catalinas were inducted into
The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 13, 2013.