Introducing Johnny Bernhard


Johnny Bernhard is born and raised in Enschede, The Netherlands and of Indonesian origin. Since his childhood he already was influenced by country music through family members. Just like Rock & Roll, country music is also connected with the Indonesian culture. Graduated at the conservatoire in Enschede and since then also teacher music- and guitar.

While growing up he got in touch with the music of 'The Police'. From that moment on he had his first musical hero, Andy Summers. He played along all the songs on his tennis racket until, at the age of ten, his brother gave him his first acoustic guitar and taught him his first chords. It was his grandmother who realized he had a talent, so she decided he should study classical guitar with Louis Ignatius Gall and later electric guitar with Wim Lutje Schipholt. At the age of 16 his grandmother bought his first 'real' guitar; A Fender Telecaster. Although it was a very expensive guitar, his grandmother knew it was a good investment for little Johnny. It was also the same guitar played by his hero Andy Summers. Little did he knew then that this guitar is also the ultimate guitar to play country music.

Soon afterwards Bernhard also discovered the music of Jan Akkerman, his second major guitar hero. After playing in wedding band 'Aces' and de band 'Soultrain', he founded his band 'Crackers', playing mainly Akkerman songs. At that time, the talented guitarist is still discovering his own direction in music. After a few years with 'Crackers' he focusses on country music after playing mainly blues, soul, jazz, rock and funk. He was asked to play with Dutch country legend Ben Steneker, met his son Marco and joined his band 'Alabama Rain' in 1990. With this band they played on invitation at 'The Grand Ole Opry' in Nashville (The country temple of the world). From that moment on he was totally taken by country music and focused on getting to know all the techniques on how to play country. By chance, Johnny was asked to play with his band before the show of Canadian country band 'South Mountain' with master guitarist Steve Piticco. Bernhard took his video camera with him, recorded Steve's guitar playing and when back home, he locked himself in his bedroom for a year and learned to own these techniques. Years later, both guitar players organized a guitar workshop and became good friends. With 'Alabama Rain', Johnny received several awards and became a much-asked guitarist.

During the 90's Johnny is playing the biggest country festival in the world, plays with various country bands and well-known artist, and is a much asked session guitarist. He recorded numerous advertising commercials, plays on cd's from well-known artists and starts with his study teacher guitar at the Enschede conservatoire.
It was 1997 when Willem Bijkerk, also known as Waylon, asked Bernhard to join his new band 'Printers Alley'. One year later the band's debut is in Haaksbergen, The Netherlands and soon followed by shows in Holland and Germany. Waylon quits the band to pursuit a career in America and asks Johnny to play additional guitar pieces for his single 'Ways Of The Heart'. In that same period, Johnny is asked by Ilse the Lange if he wants to be the second guitarist in her band. Ilse is currently recording her debut album 'World of Hurt' in Nashville. The two know each other well, he had played on many occasions with Ilse before, but Johnny decides to stay with Waylon. The single and accompanying video clip of Waylon not yielded the desired result, and Ilse's CD is eventually awarded five times platinum. Anno 2017 both Waylon and Ilse have built an impressive career.

Around this time Bernhard discovers the music of John Jorgenson, known from bands as 'The Hellecasters', 'The Desert Rose Band' and as guitarist of Elton John. Jorgenson became his third guitar hero. Johnny bought all albums and dvd's from Jorgenson and discovered the guitars and amplifiers John was using. As of today Johnny plays with the same tools as John: A G&L Sparkle John Jorgenson guitar and the awesome Matchless Signature John Jorgenson amplifier. By combining the styles and sounds of his three guitar hero's into his own style, Bernhard's unique approach to country music made him stand out in this music scene. And although his three biggest examples are still a big influence in his guitar play, also guitar players like Albert Lee, Brent mason, Chet Atkins and Steven Morse are of a great influence to Johnny Bernhard.

After his adventure with Waylon, Johnny joined the band 'Savannah', at that time the most popular country band of the Benelux, as a replacement guitarist. He had a great connection with the band and soon he became a regular member. With this band he performed at many festivals in Europe. The band also worked together with well-known country singer Billy Yates from America. In 2000 and 2001 Johnny is awarded the title 'best country instrumentalist' by the DCMA.

Despite the successes with 'Savannah' and his graduation from the conservatoire as teacher of music, Johnny wanted to have his own band. He leaves 'Savannah' in 2004 and, together with his wife, he starts the 'Johnny Bernhard Band'. In 2007, the band recorded their first EP 'No Problem', which was well received by country music lovers. With this band, Bernard regularly performs in Europe and is also (occasionally) the accompaniment band of artists like Doug Adkins, Jacky van der Griend, Pam Mac Beth and many others.

2013 was a disastrous year for Johnny Bernhard. He was affected by meningitis, his world collapsed and at that time his future was unclear. It is during that time he was realizing that he wanted to leave something behind for his loved ones, and the idea of his cd 'Forever' was born. This cd contains, beside the songs he wrote himself, songs that have been important and influential to Johnny. Bernhard has been healed from the meningitis, but has not been the same as before. Nevertheless, it did not hold him back from recording his legacy and he proudly presents his album 'Forever' at Poppodium Metropool in Hengelo, The Netherlands, on October 11th 2017.


Titeltrack of the new album 'Forever'