Jonny Barber began playing guitar at the age of 8. As a kid, his mother rode him to guitar lessons on the back of her motorcycle, with the guitar tied to his back with a bungee cord.
Jonny knows a lot about Rock & Roll. He has witnessed or taken part in four distinct musical epochs firsthand:
1. The Hippies. Jonny was born in San Francisco, California in 1968. His mom, a Mormon, was taking banjo lessons from Jerry Garcia in a Menlo Park music store, and Jonny uttered his first words, "Pretty lights!" looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge. Both the legendary Elvis '68 Comeback Special and Johnny Cash's Live at Folsom Prison album were made that year, which also had a tremendous impact on Jonny's musical legacy.
2. SLC Punk. In the late 1970's, Jonny's dad moved the family to Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1987, Jonny took three girls to his senior prom, and was denied entrance to the dance by the Principal, who told him "Polygamy was outlawed in this state in 1896!", to which he replied, "I don't want to marry them, I just want to dance with them!", but he was still turned away. Disillusioned, he joined a punk rock band called Blind Parade. So many of Jonny's childhood friends were in the movie SLC Punk that he feels they owe him a royalty check.
3. Grunge. Jonny moved to Olympia, Washington, in 1990, to attend the Evergreen State College. He crossed paths with Kurt Cobain many times and opened for Nirvana at the Evergreen State College. He saw Beck and Elliott Smith panhandle at the Smithfield Cafe, and every last butt-rock Camaro drivin' grunge rocker in the Seattle Scene. Even caught Eddie Vedder doing a Who tribute show with a Daltrey wig on at a warehouse party.
4. The Return of The King: Along with Jonny's hero, Elvis, Barber's Las Vegas roots run deep. His great, great, great grandfather, Charles Wesley Hubbard, was one of the first white settlers of Southern Nevada. His great grandma, Hortense Evans Nelson, sang for FDR at the dedication of the Hoover Dam. His great uncle Tommy played horn for Liberace. His mom, Phyllis Barber, was a Las Vegas Rhythmette, and was recently inducted into the Nevada Writer's Hall of Fame for a Las Vegas memoir, "How I Got Cultured" and a collection of short stories with Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe and others. She also saw Elvis' first show ever in Las Vegas, in 1956 at the New Frontier Hotel, which prompted further rumors about Jonny's lineage.
With all the uncanny similarities between Jonny and Elvis, it was inevitable after hearing a fan remark, "You know you don't look so much like Elvis as you do a painting of Elvis...", and "You're like Elvis singing Johnny Cash better than anybody!" that he was given the nickname The Velvet Elvis. From January 8, 2004 (anniversary of Elvis' birthday) to August 16, 2014 (anniversary of Elvis' death), Jonny swung his hips and curled his lips all over the globe, even singing at Graceland, meeting members of Elvis' band, and hanging with Larry Geller (Elvis' hailstylist and spiritual mentor). He even performed at retired Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy's 80th birthday party, who was a very close friend to The King.
In 2007, Jonny began performing as Jonny Barber & The Rhythm Razors with rippin' doghouse bass player Michael Baird, who introduced him to Willie Lewis, founder of the Rock-A-Billy Record Co. label in Denver, Colorado. Considered by many to be the "living Sam Phillips", Lewis has been releasing traditional rockabilly records since 1983, including Go Cat Go's first record, one of Jonny's personal favorite rockabilly bands. Jonny began writing and recording his own original songs for the label, and also played lead guitar on some of Willie Lewis' recordings. Together they released several highly collectible colored vinyl 45's.
In 2008-2009, Jonny played lead guitar and co-wrote the songs for the band MAMA. Upon hearing the very riff-heavy Zeppelinesque sounds, Guitar God Steve Vai signed MAMA's debut album, Bayoutopia, to his Digital Nations label. The release date was March 2, 2010. After the album's release, Jonny declined the offer to tour with the band and returned to his Americana roots.
In October of 2010, bassist Symphony Tidwell and drummer Randee McKnight joined The Rhythm Razors as they crossed the pond for their first European tour, including Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands in support of the album "Cut Close", building even more momentum for this explosive live act.
In a very short time, Jonny Barber & The Rhythm Razors cut a wide swath across today's rockabilly scene. They have played main stage multiple times at the People's Fair in Denver, performed before a sold-out crowd at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, sang the national anthem for the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls' bouts at the Fillmore Auditorium, rocked the inaugural Colorado Burlesque Festival at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, grossed out the Gothic Theatre for Troma Fest, shared a stage with acts Hillbilly Hellcats,Three Bad Jacks and Jesse Dayton, and still played regularly at Denver's true blue rockabilly bar The Skylark Lounge.
In 2012, Jonny rejoined doghouse bassist Michael Baird to record at the Legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, TN on August 16-17, 2012: the 35th Anniversary of Elvis' death. The resultant collection of songs titled "Golden Plates" is a companion album to Jonny's forthcoming book, entitled "In His Shoes", about his time spent impersonating The King.
In 2013-2014, Jonny recruited Lance Bakemeyer (Hillbilly Hellcats) on standup bass and "Mad Dog" Mike Minnick on drums as the new rhythm section for the Rhythm Razors. They worked on some songs for Lance's 30 Years of Rockabilly album, and played a few tours together.
Today Jonny continues to put an a show that will make you dance in the aisles, rock the joint til the roof shakes, and see first hand the sound that fueled the legends of early rock 'n' roll. His raw sound and presence will make you swear that the old rock and roll legends walk again. With the inclusion of modern-day hits in the set-list, Jonny Barber & The Rhythm Razors beg the question, 'What would Elvis be playing if he were alive today?'"