Interview with DORO/Britny Fox Drummer Johnny Dee

By Mick Michaels

Cosmick View: Hello, Johnny! Welcome to The COSMICK VIEW. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it’s greatly appreciated.

CV: You just celebrated your 25th year performing with the Metal Queen, Doro Pesch. Congratulations on this silver anniversary milestone, with many, many more to come I’m sure. With such an accomplishment, how do you plan to celebrate?
Johnny Dee: Thank you! It’s quite unbelievable, really. Our bassist Nick Douglas even has me beat by a few years! We had a really killer event for his 25th, which would be cool to replicate. A 2-day event with the first night being a special performance of Nick’s solo stuff with the Doro band members and the 2nd night a full DORO show in an intimate venue. If not an “official” celebration, I’m just happy to continue doing shows wherever it may be! More good times with good people…still waiting for my gold watch though! LOL

CV: In addition to your incredible tenure with Doro, what do you feel has been your greatest achievement as a musician?
JD: Surviving the 80’s! Haha

CV: It seems like you have never stopped working whereas many of your peers have come and gone. What has kept you in the game… what keeps you ticking?
JD: I’ve been very fortunate and I still enjoy doing it. Of course it helps to have a gig that has lasted 25 years…and a common loyalty with Doro for example. But, there are so many variables…it really comes down to the individual. I guess it’s sort of an addiction. You really chase that high and sometimes there are low points. I’ve been doing it so long I wouldn’t know what else to do, haha. It’s not an easy life…especially if you’re not at the top of the “food chain”.  If you don’t quit, you learn to adapt and survive.

CV: Do you play any other instruments in addition to the drums?
JD: I’m quite an accomplished air-guitarist!

CV: You have rubbed shoulders with so many of the greats…Do you find you still get a little star struck after all these years?
JD: For sure. I’m still just a geeky fan for the most part. Unless the person is just a dick, haha! I don’t have time for that. 

In past bios, you have sighted Peter Criss from Kiss as a big influence early on. Have you ever considered playing in a Kiss tribute band and doing the makeup? I recall seeing photos of you many years ago donning the cat face paint.
JD: Ahhh…so much fun back then doing the face paint and rocking out! Would be a blast to do again…and of COURSE I’d wanna do the makeup! 

CV: Which album put you on the road to Rock or road to ruin depending on your point of view? :) 
JD: There were quite a few that flipped a switch towards the heavier side of music. I always think of Alice Cooper “Killer”, Deep Purple “Machine Head”, Led Zeppelin II and Kiss “Alive” as a few stand-outs for me at that time.

CV: Are there any plans for a new Britny Fox record in the coming future and will the band hit the road again this year?
JD: Unfortunately, the band has ground to a halt again. We had some nice momentum going with the last attempt…but, as in the past, personal issues, disagreements and the inability of certain people to communicate and work together for the common goal have ruined our chances to make some new music and continue to do live shows for our fans. So, nothing coming up in that area at this time.

CV: Without a doubt your career demonstrates the power of having a dream… and working at it without fail to sustain a long and successful profession. What do you believe are the top three things it takes for an artist to make it in the music business? Are those three things any different than say 30 years ago?
JD: I think the passion for music will always be the # 1 thing. Then, your personal definition of “making it”. Some people are happy just being creative, recording…doing small gigs…or teaching. Then there are the “hired guns” who are employed as players who obviously need to be paid because that is their livelihood.

For a band or artist, I think the basics are still the same as 30 years ago…you need a good “product” and fans to enjoy it to build and sustain. The “biz” side has changed drastically as we all know but in some ways artists can have more control over their careers. The big labels worked great for some but many were chewed up and spit out. Now, if you can use the tools available to you (social media, crowd funding, etc, etc) and build a solid fan base and touring schedule, it can definitely work.

CV: In addition to your time with Doro, Britny Fox and numerous other original projects, you also perform with the INXS tribute band KICK and also had an all-star 80's tribute band called Headbanger's Ball... is there a big difference for you playing covers versus originals or is it all just work?
JD: It depends. It’s gotta be fun. Playing tunes you like with people you like…that’s the basis of it for me. With HBB, it was a killer band playing all the tunes we dug from the heavier side of the 80’s. I loved that project and am very sad it never reached its full potential. We lost our singer Jane Train (Janet Rains) to a tragic accident on tour with Adrenaline Mob that also took the life of bassist Dave Z (TSO, etc).

With “KICK,” it’s still “Rock” but a different musical side all together…covering New Wave, R&B, Funk and Dance grooves. INXS were a great band that covered many musical styles and changes over the course of their career. So I like the challenge of it as well. They had some really great songs which are fun to play. And the guys in my band are all such good players and people so I dig spending time with them. Seeing the reactions of INXS fans is the best though! We’ve met so many new friends and cool people… it’s a beautiful thing to help keep that music out there. The tribute scene has exploded due to the time we live in and many of the greats not being around anymore. And also because many people can’t afford to see the originals if they are still touring!

As for the performance part…or recreating covers, I like to approach it to try and stay true to the original while adding a bit of my own style. Even in DORO…if it’s (for example) an older Doro (or Warlock) song that I did not originally play on, technically, it IS a cover! So, again, I keep the best “bits” and add a few of my own. Some covers can take some work just to get the right feel…or can be more difficult technically, which I always see as a cool challenge. Whether I’m playing or watching someone else, I like to hear certain signature fills or beats played true to the original. Unless of course, you’re doing a completely different take on a song…then it’s cool to do whatever’s necessary to make it work.

CV: Unfortunately, artists come and go in this business. It just seems to be the nature of the beast. Have you ever thought about quietly walking away from music and going off somewhere to do something completely different? And if so, what would that “something different” be?
JD: I like to dabble in a lot of stuff in addition to music…drawing & painting, photography, graphic design, travel, cooking, nature, fitness…so, it would have to satisfy me creatively and of course, provide a bit of income. It could also be within the music field as a tour manager or doing bookings, etc. Or possibly just running a solar powered Bed & Breakfast in the Swiss Alps where I could ride my bike, take pictures and paint all day! Hahaha!

CV: Everyone is on the merchandise craze. Fans love to be able to take a piece of their favorite rock star home with them. You have a incredibly unique piece of merchandise now available to the fans. What’s it feel like to have your very own official action figure?
JD: Ha! Well, it’s not really an action figure…but still super cool to have! It’s a 3D printed figure with no moving parts, quite delicate, but still awesome. The company is called “Staramba” based in Germany, and you can check them out on the web:

CV: With so many bands reforming and the carrousel of old and new members revolving, would you ever consider a potential offer to join an established American-based band?
JD: Sure. Is Metallica hiring? :)

CV: If you had to name the one character trait that has kept you going all these years, what would it be?
JD: Narcissism? Hahahaha

CV: Doro released a new, 2-disc CD last August, “Forever Warriors, Forever United.” 
What are some highlights from the new album?
JD: Yes, 25 songs…a double album. It is packed with Doro goodness, positivity and uplifting Rock and Metal anthems. And as with every Doro CD, the more sensitive and soulful (sometimes sad) side of the spectrum is represented as well, which is very important to her and I feel has always set her apart. There are a ton of special guests on there as always. I enjoyed hearing an ‘ol Philly bud, Doug Aldrich lay some bad ass solos on a track called “Heartbroken” over my drum tracks. We’ve known each other for over 30 years… jammed a bunch of times but never did a recording together. So now we finally have one, haha, even though we were never in the same room together! One of the amazing things you can accomplish with technology these days… collaborating across the globe by internet.

The record really covers a wide variety and I think the true fans will love it while also having “something for everybody”, if they are checking out Doro for the first time. It did quite well in the German charts the first weeks of release and the first leg of the tour went amazingly well in Germany last December. We had quite a few sold-out shows and performing the new songs was fun.

Since working with Doro, you have been credited with writing a couple of songs, “Fight” and “Creep into My Brain”.  Anything penned from you on the new album?
JD: Yes. “Blood, Sweat and Rock & Roll” is one.

CV: Will we be seeing Doro on any US dates in 2019?
JD: Yes, US dates were just announced this week. We’ll be doing some co-headline dates with Metal Church in April/May.

CV: Any thoughts on doing an all-star solo album?
JD: I’m working on one as we speak. A bit of a tribute to our “fallen heroes”…so, it will be a collection of my favorite songs by some legendary bands and musicians that we have lost. Mostly from the era that I grew up in (70’s) and still means the most to me musically. I’ve started tracking drums and I’m hoping to get as many guests as I can get to be involved.

CV: You have traveled the world, and from your viewpoint and experience, is Rock still alive and well? 
JD: I think it depends on which perspective you’re coming from. Those of us who have lived through the 60’s/70’s/80’s…know “how it used to be” of course that “Rock” is dead! But, there are obviously many successful “Rock” artists out there now. And touring has become king. I’ve seen so many artists who can’t get the attention in the US anymore continue to tour and do well in Europe.

But there is a lot of bullshit to deal with…getting paid for your music, having to “pay to play,” etc. It all affects the smaller, struggling artists terribly.

And then you have a fan’s perspective…we have so much more available to us but some people can’t even afford to go to ONE show, let alone all the ones they would love to see. 

CV: Who would you say your favorite artists are... past and present... the ones who really inspire you?
JD: Too many to mention! The music I grew up on will always be the nearest and dearest to my heart. I am still discovering stuff from the 70’s that I may have missed somehow. But listening to all the greats continues to inspire. One example that has seen a huge resurgence is Queen! You could literally spend all your time diving into every nook and cranny of their career and still be inspired and amazed. The talent and creativity in that band was unparalleled. I like to revisit many bands from time to time.

A lot of new music and genres simply do not resonate with me in the same way. However there are some things that stick out here and there. Usually, the ones who sound retro...hahaha.

CV: Reflecting over your long and thriving career, any regrets? If there was one thing you could have done differently what would it have been?
JD: I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to continue to do this. Sometimes I wish for a more balanced life, not being away from family and friends for so long. But it’s always a trade off…I’ve seen some amazing places, played some fantastic shows, been all over the world and met many nice people along the way. It’s a bit of a lonely life but bringing smiles to people through music is such a great feeling.

What’s coming up on the horizon for you?
JD: Continuing to make music and do shows…business as usual! Haha!

CV: Thank you again Johnny for spending your time talking and sharing with our readers. Congratulations on 25 years with Doro! I wish you all the best and continued success!
JD: Much appreciated! Wishing the Cosmick View all the best as well…thanks for the opportunity to speak with you and your readers!

Check out Johnny at:

My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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