John has been recovering from illness and we are hopeful he will return to the studio and to the stage with more of his original music. Stay tuned, and don't forget to turn it up!
In 2012, John Nitzinger completed studio work on three recently released projects including two CD's, "Bloodrock 2013" with Jim Rutledge and "Revenge" with Dave Evans (former AC/DC lead singer), featuring never before heard originals written by John. Released in 2012 was the Nitzinger DVD, a 90-minute documentary feature, "Nitzinger - Tears From There To Here", a Clinton Rawls film produced by Executive Producer Andy Anderson, John Nitzinger and Judy Nitzinger.
BUDDY MAGAZINE: "Nitz was held in such high regard for his guitar playing that BUDDY Magazine included John in our first list of the hottest guitarists in Texas, the BUDDY Texas Tornados, back in 1978. Yes, John Nitzinger can play the electric guitar like nobody’s business, but he can really play the blues, a talent that has somehow kept him relevant and a crowd pleaser over the last 50 years. (Yes, you read that correctly.) What makes his story so remarkable is not just the success and crashes, but the personal health issues that erupted in the last ten years....I don’t say this as some kind of Zig Ziglar apostle, but a true music fan that remains impressed with how well Nitzinger is playing and how he takes something old (blues rock) but is able to make it new." — Kirby E. Warnock, Buddy Magazine, March 2012
FORT WORTH WEEKLY: "Did you know that AC/DC had a lead singer before Bon Scott? Neither did I. Evidently, the guy’s name is Dave Evans, and not only is he still kicking (and rocking), he recently performed the vocals in the studio on a couple of songs by blues-rocking Fort Worth ax-man John Nitzinger. Pretty cool. (Reminds me of how a couple of years ago the dude who sang The Nuge’s “Stranglehold,” Derek St. Holmes, sang on a couple of tracks by Fort Worth’s Blood of the Sun.) Nitz is still kicking and rocking too. He recently released a DVD of a performance he had done on live television in Munich a while back, he played the Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, and he was on the Bo & Jim morning show on Lone Star 92.5. Good for Johnny. Visit www.nitzinger.com." — Hearsay, Hearsay - Fort Worth Weekly - It’s Electric, Booga Wooga Wooga, September 8, 2010
FORT WORTH WEEKLY, HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2008: Most guitarists can only dream of drawing the fat tones that John Nitzinger effortlessly teases out of his ax. Nitz, in all fairness, has had a lot of practice. As a member of The Barons during Fort Worth’s teen-scene days, he rocked the clubs along Jacksboro Highway — though he wasn’t even old enough to drive a car legally. In the ’70s, he penned a gold album with his band Bloodrock and was invited to start projects with Alice Cooper and Carl Palmer. Having recently triumphed over alcoholism, a stroke, and cancer, Nitz is still writing and performing, and his last album, 2008’s Kiss of the Mudman, is a testament to his indomitable spirit. — Caroline Collier, Fort Worth Weekly
STAR-TELEGRAM: Dallas - Billy Bob Thornton's appearance Thursday night at the House of Blues was more of a reunion than a concert. Throughout the opening act, (Thornton's '60's-pop project, the Boxmasters) and the startingly brief headlining performance. Thornton was picking dear friends and longtime acquaintances out of the crowd at a steady clip, waiving hi and gnerally acting like it was old home week. He even stopped during the Boxmasters' opening set to give a shout-out to Fort Worth's John Nitzinger, who sat in the balcony and met up with Thornton backstage after the show. - Mike Fuentas, Star-Telegram, August 11, 2007
REVIEW: John Nitzinger’s "Kiss of the Mudman" album - By Ken Shimamoto
John Nitzinger’s been a name to conjure with among lovers of thunderous, Beatle-and-blues-influenced rock since the ‘70s, and not just in the Fort, either. I’d heard of him when I was a snotnose in high school on the east coast ca. ’71-’72. Back then, the biggest band in the world among my cohort was Grand Funk Railroad. In 1969, their manager-producer Terry Knight had signed a Fort Worth band called the Crowd + 1 – veterans of the local teen club circuit who started out as the Naturals in 1963 -- to Capitol Records and renamed ‘em Bloodrock.
To insure the success of his charges, Knight wisely acquired the songwriting services of guitar-slinger Nitzinger, who’d survived parking lot brawls at the Haltom Roller Rink and untold debauchery at Fort Worth’s rough-and-tumble Cellar Club. More to the point, he’d fronted one of Cowtown’s top teen bands, the Barons, who had the distinction of being the only local teen outfit that performed original material -- penned by Nitzinger, of course -- almost exclusively. (A bunch of Barons sides were included in the Fort Worth Teen Scene compilation series a couple of years back.)
Nitzinger contributed songs to five Bloodrock albums and was signed to Capitol as a solo artist, releasing two albums of his own and stealing the show at the Mar Y Sol festival in Puerto Rico (his heyday having been the era of the Big Hipi Rockfest). There remains tantalizingly unreleased an album of Nitzinger ballads that Bloodrock frontman Jim Rutledge recorded after leaving the band in ’72, which Nitzinger told Bloodrock biographer Barry Stoller “is the most artistic, scary, beautiful, moving, different [thing] I've ever done.” In ’78, Nitzinger scored a new major label contract, this time with 20th Century, and released Live Better Electrically. He went on to play in 1PM with ex-ELP drummer Carl Palmer and tour with Alice Cooper, as well as contributing songs and guitar to the shock-rocker’s Zipper Catches Skin album.
More recently, he’s struggled with health issues – cancer, a stroke – that have slowed him down but couldn’t knock him out. He’s been teaching lessons at his downtown studio, Nitzinger’s Music Factory, making occasional live appearances, and working on this album. When the recording was completed, he enlisted the help of fans, who ponied up the bucks to get the CD pressed, proving that ‘80s post-punkers don’t have a monopoly on DIY-dom. (He gives his benefactors credit for “Creative Financing” on the CD slick.)
Digging into those little digitally encoded 1’s and 0’s, what do we find? All of the preceding backstory aside, this ain’t no nostalgia-fest, although the music’s plenty evocative of the era that spawned its creator. Au contraire, mon frere. Rather, back in action after all these years, Nitzinger has done the unlikely: created a bona fide, radio-ready Big Rock Record. (Is that an oxymoron?) All of the necessary ingredients are here: intelligently crafted, hook-laden songs (no fooling, citizen – even his guitar solos have hooks!) with clever, thought-provoking, topical lyrics, framed in a cinematic production (courtesy of Eagle Audio’s Jeff Ward) that’s chock-full of sonic detail to beguile the ear.
In his book Texas Music, author Rick Koster calls Nitzinger’s lyrics “surely Texas rock’s answer to Dylan Thomas,” and you can tell he hasn’t lost his touch from the album’s opening couplet: “Black candles on the sill of my window, / Black curtains to match.” These days, Johnny’s got a lot on his mind, and he lets us hear all about it on Kiss of the Mudman. A lot of it is pretty durn dark, which isn’t surprising, considering some of the trials ‘n’ tribs the songwriter’s had to endure of late. Overall, in fact, the songs hang together thematically like something off one of his former employer V. Furnier’s classic ‘70s albs like Killer or Billion Dollar Babies.
The intro to the title track will be familiar to anyone who’s logged onto Nitzinger’s website the past few months, and he spins out slippery blues lines that fit the lyrics’ expression of anomie: “I don’t like feeling these feelings I feel, / It’s all about me / The fake is too fake and the real is too real…” Next track, “The Devil’s Got the Blues,” takes the political subtext out of the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” shtick and paints De Debil is a silver-tongued seducer who “just [needs] someone to talk to.” Nitzinger borrows Hendrix’ Axis: Bold As Love Octavia for his solo here, which is as evocative as the line “’Cause the place where I come from, the people have no tongues / And the only voice I hear has been screaming a million years.”
“You’d Bitch At a Cloud” takes an ultimate buzzkill to task (“You’d bitch at a cloud, bring the whole sky down … You’d tear the wings off a butterfly, / Just to make me cry”) while serving as the vehicle for a gorgeously lyrical guitar melody – worthy of Ezrin’s back-in-the-day house hotshots Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner -- over an orchestral-sounding synth backing. Its beauty is immediately surpassed by the following track, “The Long Sleep,” with its gossamer sheets of Hendrixian arpeggios and a melody that recalls Jimi’s “May This Be Love,” giving way to piledriver metallic chordal grind behind the solos. The lovely melody only becomes sinister when you listen to the lyrics and realize that it’s Death who’s tempting you with lines like “My pillow’s deep, / Soft and warm as a young girl’s skin, / Comfortable as sin.”
We get down to the philosophical meat of the matter with “Calling,” a plea to love yer brother worthy of vintage Grand Funk at their most earnest / naïve with a nifty two-part solo that contrasts octaves-over-handclaps with scorching blues rifferama over pianner tinklings. On “Bad Day,” the Boston-like pedal-tone bass with organ washes will appeal to Classic Rock radio listeners (with more organic, ballsier-sounding guitars, of course), as will lines like “There’s a price to be paid for the choices I made forever over due” (since most Classic Rock listeners are more, uh, seasoned and mature than, say, your average Black Tie Dynasty fan). “You Know Me” gives us a taste of what the unheard Rutledge album must have sounded like; it’s as emotionally open and artifice-free as any “power ballad” you’re likely to hear, and reminds me (sniff) that Nitzinger was married last year.
The ecologically themed “Let the Living Grow” works off a mutated version of the riff Humble Pie used to propel their version of “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” giving way to a Beatlesque chord sequence and staccato Nitzinger solo. “Sarah’s Letter” contrasts a letter from a dead child (portrayed by Ava Worm) to her parents with the callous self-justification of the drunk driver that killed her (played by Johnny, natch). If you think using kids’ voices on rock rekkids is exploitative (a fave Ezrin trick, from Alice’s “Ballad of Dwight Frye” to Lou Reed’s “The Kids,” on which, legend has it, the Machiavellian producer got his own kids to cry by telling them their mother was dead), this ‘un might give you the willies, but if the MADD folks were smart, they’d have this song blaring from radios ‘n’ teevees everywhere. “Again, Again” starts out with a kinda cheesy Kansas/Styx intro, but before you know it, you’re into a harrowing tale of domestic violence and its endless cycle of lies: “Here we are again, again, / Breaking promises, bone and skin …”
“Revenge” employs the same cornball keyboard horn sounds that a lot of contemporary blues artists seem to favor these days (listen to the daytime blues programming on KNON-FM for examples) but showcases Nitzinger in a form he inhabits as comfortably as an old pair of shoes: the Texas shuffle. “The Beast” addresses Nitzinger’s own recent demons head on and ends on a triumphant note: “For the thousandth time, I get a second chance, / to ride the ride and dance the dance …” Age and illness have not mellowed him, nor have they muted his distinctive voice. Nitzinger remains a Fort Worth treasure. Rock on, sir.