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Legendary Stardust Cowboy

DAWN OF THE DOOTZ

The Dootz Does the Dootz 45 sleeve

If you can imagine it, there once existed a bizarre cross between American punk's Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the author of the histrionic "Paralyzed," and rockabilly's the Phantom, who won our hearts with the mysterious "Love Me."

His name was the Dootz, and he singlehandedly created a stylistic blend that can only be described as mutant American primitivism. This radical sound, born in the early '80s, was downright psychotic to the point of being transcendental.  It was the creation of one David Frey Johns, who had spent most of his life singing to records in his room and wailing in friends' showers, hoping one day to be heard in a social context.

As a child David Johns was called "Duke" by his father, a nickname that eventually evolved into "Dootz."  "My dad and I used to sing together when we went to church," the Dootz once told me, "but we had our own version of 'Onward Christian Soldiers.'  Everybody else was singing it the right way.

Johns' earliest musical influences were typical--Elvis, the Beatles, Buddy Holly--but he was especially devoted to James Brown and Jackie Wilson, two performers who possessed an intense emotional style both on record and in performance.  At times, the future Dootz even considered himself more of a soul singer because he could reach deep down and pour himself inside out with feelings from real-life experience.