The Hitmen

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For other uses, see Hitman (disambiguation).
Also known as Johnny and the Hitmen, Hitmen DTK
Origin Sydney, Australia
Genres Punk rock, Indie rock
Years active 1977–1984, 1989–1992, 2007-now
Labels WEA, RCA, Zeus Records, Savage Beat/Shock
Associated acts Radio Birdman, The New Christs, Screaming Tribesmen, Johnny Kannis Explosion, Tablewaiters, Klondike's North 40

Hitmen are an Australian Hard rock band. The group went through a large number of lineup changes in its short late 1970s and early 1980s run, then regrouped under a new name, Hitmen DTK, between 1989 and 1992. They reformed in 2007 and continue to play.


Radio Birdman backup singer Johnny Kannis first formed the group as Johnny and the Hitmen in 1977. They recorded three songs and released two of them as a 7" under Johnny's name in 1978. When Radio Birdman's European tour went awry in 1978, some of its members joined Kannis' band. The group began touring, and signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1979, releasing their first single in July of that year. A second single followed the next year, and in December 1980, the band entered the studio. The result was 1981's self-titled full length, released in July, and the group supported Steppenwolf on an Australian tour.

In 1982, the group left Warner Bros. Records and signed to RCA Records, quickly releasing a follow-up LP that ended up selling poorly. When Iggy Pop toured Australia in 1983, three of The Hitmen and one member of The Celibate Rifles were selected as a backing band to Radio Birdman singer Rob Younger, who was picked as the opening act (as The New Christs). Kannis went on the road with a new band, Johnny Kannis and the Night Train, during this hiatus. Kannis was injured in a car accident on tour and was out of commission for over a year; the group broke up shortly after a farewell tour once Kannis was well again. Following this was a live album, Tora Tora DTK, for which the band did a few one-off shows in 1985.

Towards the end of the 1980s, Kannis re-formed the Hitmen with a new lineup as the Hitmen DTK. After one EP, the lineup changed yet again, and in 1991 another LP followed after recording sessions in Austin, Texas. The group toured Australia opening for Dark Carnival, but broke up soon after.

The band reformed in 2007, doing a round of Australian shows. This line-up of Kannis, Masuak, bassist Tony "The Kid" Robertson, guitarist Tony "Juke" Jukic and drummer Murray "Muzz" Shepherd remains in place today.

A one-off gig in February 2008 with former Dark Carnival/Destroy All Monsters singer Niagara at The Crest Hotel, Sylvania, was recorded and released as "St Valentine's Day Massacre" by Savage Beat/Shock in Australia and US label Steel Cage around the world. Re-issues of "Hitmen", "It Is What It Is" and "Tora Tora DTK" have been released on Savage Beat/Shock, each with detailed liner notes and extra discs of bonus material.

The band has gigged solidly since then with a national tour with Niagara undertaken in April 2010.

The Hitmen marked their 30th anniversary with a one-off show at the Sandringham Hotel, Newtown, in Sydney on 21 May 2010. Another retrospective collection "Dancin' Time" of studio and live material was released in November 2010. The band is on hiatus as Masuak has moved to Spain. Johnny has almost finished recording his new solo single which is being Produced by Hitman Tony Jukic @ Alchemy Music Group Studios.



  • Peter Banesevic : Guitar
  • Gye Bennetts : Drums (1989)
  • Clyde Bramley : Bass (1978)
  • Alan Brown : Drums (1978)
  • Charlie Georges : Guitar (1977–78)
  • Warwick Gilbert : Bass, Guitar (1977–78, 1981)
  • Steve Harris : Keyboard, Guitar (1978)
  • Ivor Hay : Drums (1978–79)
  • Richard Jakimyszyn : Guitar, Vocals (1984)
  • Tony Jukic : Guitar (2007- )
  • Johnny Kannis : Vocals
  • Ron Keeley : Drums (1977)
  • Mark Kingsmill: Drums, Vocals (1979–84)
  • Chris Masuak : Guitar, Vocals
  • Angie Pepper : Vocals (1977–78)
  • Geoff Peterkin : Drums (1979)
  • Lynne Phillips : Vocals (1978)
  • Tony Robertson : Bass, Vocals (1982–86, 2007- )
  • Brad Shepherd : Guitar (1981–82)
  • Murray Shepherd : Drums (2007- )
  • Phil Somerville : Bass (1978–79)
  • Tony Vidale : Guitar (1979–81)
  • Robert Sattler : Guitar (1987–91)


As Johnny Kannis
  • "King of the Surf/Under the Boardwalk" (7", 1978)
  • "King of the Surf/"Pushin' Too Hard" (The Seeds cover) (7", 1991; recorded 1978)
As Hitmen
  • "Didn't Tell the Man/I Am the Man" (7", WEA, 1979)
  • "I Want You/Tell Tale Heart" (7", WEA, 1980)
  • "I Don't Mind/Rock & Roll Soldier" (7", WEA, 1981)
  • Hitmen (LP, WEA, 1981)
  • "Everybody Knows/Dancin' Time" (7", RCA, 1982)
  • "Bwana Devil/Didn't Wanna Love You" (7", WEA, 1982)
  • It Is What it Is (LP, RCA, 1982)
  • Tora Tora DTK (live LP, Rattlesnake Records, 1984)
  • Compilation 78-82 (Survival Records, 1988)
  • "Hitmen" (re-issue 2CD, Savage Beat/Shock, 2007)
  • "It Is What It Is" (re-issue 2CD, Savage Beat/Shock, 2007)
  • "Tora Tora DTK" (re-issue 2CD, Savage Beat/Shock, 2009)
As Niagara & Hitmen
  • "St Valentine's Day Massacre" (live LP, Savage Beat/Steel Cage, 2009)
As Hitmen DTK
  • U.E.L.A. (EP, Survival, 1989)
  • Moronic Inferno (LP, Zeus Records, 1991)
  • Surfin' in Another Direction (EP, Zeus, 1992)

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