Johnny Neel

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Johnny Neel
Johnny Neel and The Dave Chappell Band Aug 5 2016.jpg
Background information
Born (1954-06-11) June 11, 1954 (age 62)
Origin Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Genres Blues, rock, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, vocalist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, harmonica
Years active 1966-present
Labels Breaking Records
Silverwolf Records
Associated acts The Criminal Element
Allman Brothers
Gov’t Mule
Dickey Betts
Deep Fried
The Grease Factor
Website Official website

Johnny Neel is an American vocalist, songwriter, and musician based in Nashville, Tennessee. He is best known for his songwriting, stage, and session work for the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule, and Dickey Betts.

As a songwriter, in addition to the material written, or co-written for the Allman Brothers,[1] Gregg Allman,[2] and Dicky Betts,[3] Neel's songs have also been recorded by Gov’t Mule,[4] John Mayall,[5] Delbert McClinton,[6] Montgomery Gentry,[7] Keith Whitley,[8] Travis Tritt,[9] The Oak Ridge Boys,[10] Restless Heart,[11] Ann Peebles,[12] Dorothy Moore,[13] and John Schneider.[14]

As a studio musician, Neel has appeared on recordings by The Allman Brothers,[15] Gov't Mule,[16] Warren Haynes,[17] Dickey Betts,[18] Montgomery Gentry,[19] Michael McDonald,[20] Todd Snider,[21] David Allan Coe,[22] Jeff Coffin,[23] Robert Gordon,[24] Chris LeDoux,[25] Tiny Town,[26] Suzy Bogguss,[27] Joe Diffie,[28] Colin Raye,[29] and Pirates of the Mississippi.[30]


Neel was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He cut his first single, entitled "Talking About People", at the age of twelve, as Johnny Neel and The Shapes Of Soul, which was a hit on local radio in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area. As an adult, the Johnny Neel Band had a strong following up and down the east coast and released two well-received independent albums. Neel moved to Nashville in 1984. Performing with various bands in area clubs drew the attention of former Nashville resident Dickey Betts, who asked Neel to join his road band, and he soon began working on Bett’s solo LP for Epic Records. That relationship led to seven cuts on the Pattern Disruptive album released in 1988, including the AOR hit, "Rock Bottom".[31]

Neel's talented keyboard and harmonica playing on the Pattern Disruptive album convinced Gregg Allman to ask Neel to tour with his road band which led to the inclusion of the cut "Island" on The Gregg Allman Band album (also released in 1988),[32] co-written with Allman, Dan Toler, and Tony Colton. In 1989 Neel was invited to join the reunited Allman Brothers Band. He immersed himself in touring, writing, and recording, which led to four cuts on the Allman's Seven Turns album (released in 1990), and the hit single "Good Clean Fun", co-written by Neel with Allman and Betts.[33] In 2002 country stars Montgomery Gentry included "Good Clean Fun" as part of their My Town album.[34] album.

In 1994, the studio album Johnny Neel & The Last Word was released.[35] This album included the song "Maydell", which was co-written with Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers/Gov't Mule) and has been covered by the Allman Brothers on their Hittin' The Note[36] album, and by John Mayall on his Wake Up Call [37] album. The album also included the song "Read Me My Rights" which was co-written with Delbert McClinton, and which was covered by McClinton on his Nothing Personal[38] album, by Ann Peebles on her Full Time Love[39] album, by Dorothy Moore on Stay Close to Home[40] album, and by Dalton Reed on Louisiana Soul Man.[41] This album featured appearances by Jack Pearson (Allman Brothers) on guitar and Delbert McClinton on harmonica.

In 1995, Neel's album Commin' Atcha... Live was released and included live versions of "Read Me My Rights" and "Maydell". The album captured a live appearance by Neel and his band The Last Word including Jack Pearson and most of the musicians on The Last Word album.

In 2000, Neel released Late Night Breakfast which was recorded at his Straight Up Sound Studio with the members of his band The Last Word, along with special guests guitarists Shane Theriot (The Neville Brothers), and Rick Vito, as well as Wayne Jackson on trumpet. Late Night Breakfast was released on Neel's Breakin' Records label.[42]

During the period of time the Late Night Breakfast recordings were made, Neel also became a member of Blue Floyd,[43] an all-star jam band performing variations on the material of Pink Floyd. In addition to Neel, the band was composed of guitarist Marc Ford, drummer Matt Abts, bassist Berry Oakley Jr. (OKB Band) and until his death, Allen Woody on second guitar. Neel and Abts then went into the Straight Up Sound Studio and recorded the X2 funk/jam duo project. X2 - Johnny Neel / Matt Abts was released in 2002.

In 2004, Neel released the album Gun Metal Blue on his Breaking Records label which was also recorded at Straight Up Sound. These sessions included guitarists Chris Anderson, George Marinelli, and Pat Bergeson, drummer Vince Santoro, and vocalists Joanna Cotten, and Neel's wife, Christine Thompson Neel.

Also in 2004, the album Johnny Neel and The Italian Experience was released on the Italian label, Artesuono.[44] This album included strings and horns as Neel moved in a jazz direction. The album included members of the Italian blues/rock/jam power trio W.I.N.D.,[45] with which Neel has toured and recorded in Europe several times.[46]

In addition to Blue Floyd[47] and X2[48] projects, Neel was a part of two other all-star collaborations. The group Deep Fried included Neel on keyboards, drummer Matt Abts, guitarist Brian Stoltz, and bassist George Porter Jr.. Their album The Deep Fried Sessions - Live[49] was released in 2004. The other group, The Grease Factor released two live recordings;[50] Off the Cuff[51] in 2004, and Live From Zambifest 2004[52] in 2005. The Grease Factor included guitarist Shane Theriot, bassist Derek Jones, drummer Jeff Sipe, and percussionist Count M'Butu.

Neel has provided vocals on five songs included on four Walt Disney Records CD releases, related to the Pixar Animation Studios movie releases, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Ratatouille. These include "Saturday Night Fish Fry" from the 2003 release Finding Nemo: Ocean Favorites,[53] "My Old Car" from the 2006 release Lightning McQueen's Fast Tracks,[54] "One Meat Ball" and "Banana Split for My Baby" from the 2007 release Ratatouille: What's Cooking?,[55] and "Hot Rodder's Lament" from the 2009 release Mater's Car Tunes.[56]

Towards the end of the new century's first decade Neel was recording and performing with his band The Criminal Element. Three albums have been released by Johnny Neel and The Criminal Element; Volume 1 (2007), Volume 2 (2008), and The CSI Chronicles (2010).

In 2010, Neel also released Harmonius,[57] a solo project featuring only his vocals and keyboards.

In 2012 Every Kinda' Blues... But What You're Used To was released.[58] A return to a more blues-based sound, the album includes Ex-Allman Brothers guitarist Jack Pearson, and ex-Little Feat vocalist Shaun Murphy.[59]

Also in 2012, in recognition of their contributions to the world of music, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to the Allman Brothers Band.[60] Neel made significant contributions to the history of the band, playing keyboards and harmonica during their 20th Anniversary Reunion tour, performing on the Seven Turns album, and co-writing four tracks on that album, including the chart topping hit Good Clean Fun.


Recording as Johnny Neel:

  • One Hot Night – 1981
  • You Should've Been There (live) - 1983
  • Comin' Atcha Live (Big Mo/Silverwolf) - 1995
  • Late Night Breakfast (Silverwolf) – 2000
  • X2 - Johnny Neel Matt Abts (Silverwolf) - 2002
  • Gun Metal Blue (Breakin’ Records) - 2004
  • Johnny Neel and the Italian Experience (Artesuono, Italy) - 2004
  • Johhny Neel and The Criminal Element Vol 1 (Silverwolf) - 2007
  • Johhny Neel and The Criminal Element Vol 2 (Silverwolf) - 2008
  • Johnny Neel And The Criminal Element: CSI Chronicles (Silverwolf) CD/DVD - 2010
  • Harmonious – (Homemade) CD/DVD – 2010
  • Every Kinda' Blues... But What You're Used To (Breakin' Records) - 2012


  1. ^ Hittin the Note - The Allman Brothers, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  2. ^ Just Before the Bullets Fly at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  3. ^ Seven Turns at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  4. ^ The Deep End, Vol. 2 - Gov't Mule, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  5. ^ Wake Up Call - John Mayall, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  6. ^ Nothing Personal - Delbert McClinton, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  7. ^ My Town - Montgomery Gentry, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  8. ^ Don't Close Your eyes - Keith Whitley, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  9. ^ A Travis Tritt Christmas: Loving Time of the Year - Travis Tritt, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  10. ^ Unstoppable - Oak Ridge Boys, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  11. ^ Fast Movin' Train - Restless Heart, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  12. ^ ASCAP ACE, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  13. ^ Stay Close to Home - Dorothy Moore, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  14. ^ ASCAP ACE, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  15. ^ Allman Brothers Band - Seven Turns, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  16. ^ Gov't Mule - Life Before Insanity, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  17. ^ Warren Haynes - Tales Of Ordinary Madness, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  18. ^ Dickey Betts - Pattern Disruptive, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  19. ^ Montgomery Gentry - My Town, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  20. ^ Michael Mcdonald - Blue Obsession, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  21. ^ Todd Snider - Happy To Be Here, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  22. ^ David Allan Coe - Recommended For Airplay, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  23. ^ Jeff Coffin - Bloom, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  24. ^ Robert Gordon - Satisfied Mind, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  25. ^ Chris LeDoux - One Road Man, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  26. ^ Tiny Town, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  27. ^ Suzy Bogguss, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  28. ^ Joe Diffie - A Thousand Winding Roads, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  29. ^ Collin Raye - Twenty Years And Change, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  30. ^ Pirates Of The Mississippi - Paradise, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  31. ^ Pattern Disruptive at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  32. ^ Just Before the Bullets Fly at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  33. ^ Seven Turns at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  34. ^ My Town - Montgomery Gentry, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  35. ^ Johnny Neel & The Last Word, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  36. ^ Hittin' The Note, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  37. ^ Wake Up Call, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  38. ^ Nothing Personal, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  39. ^ Full Time Love, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  40. ^ Stay Close to Home, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  41. ^ Louisiana Soul Man, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  42. ^ Late Night Breakfast at Allmusic, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  43. ^ FAMILY TREE JOHNNY NEEL, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  44. ^ Johnny Neel and The Italian Experience, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  45. ^ W.I.N.D., retrieved 2011-08-06 
  46. ^ W.I.N.D. Fall Tour 2010 feat. Johnny Neel, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  47. ^ Blue Floyd Setlists, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  48. ^ X2 Johnny Neel Matt Abts Allmusic, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  49. ^ The Deep Fried Sessions Live, retrieved 2011-08-10 
  50. ^, retrieved 2011-07-25 
  51. ^ Off the Cuff, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  52. ^ Live From Zambifest 2004, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  53. ^ Finding Nemo: Ocean Favorites, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  54. ^ Lightning McQueen's Fast Tracks, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  55. ^ Ratatouille: What's Cooking?, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  56. ^ Mater's Car Tunes, retrieved 2011-08-08 
  57. ^ Harmonius, retrieved 2011-08-06 
  58. ^ Every Kinda' Blues... But What You're Used To, retrieved 2014-02-15 
  59. ^ Shaun Murphy, retrieved 2014-02-15 
  60. ^ Lifetime Achievement Award, retrieved 2014-02-15 

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