Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Johnny played the drums and attended boarding school in the Berkshires. After his drums finally broke down, he sang and played harmonica in a weekend blues band in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the late 60’s, where he opened for his idols the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. After 2 years at U-Mass Dartmouth, Johnny moved to Boston and started a blues band, playing guitar while attending Berklee School of Music.
Barnes sang and played guitar in all of the famous nightclubs in greater Boston with many Rock & Roll legends, producing and releasing a dozen records. Heavy local airplay and intense record company interest led to a hit song in England and work with legendary producer Jimmy Miller (Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Motorhead).
Barnes moonlighted through the ’80s and ’90s, helping manage Boston’s largest live music nightclub, The Channel, where his band opened for numerous major acts over the past twenty years.
In 1991 Barnes became a full time police patrol officer, FBI trained hostage negotiator, and a detective. He recently retired and is playing out again.