Johnny's Musical Heroes         

(established 2007; last updated 8/11/13)

     Every now and then, Johnny discusses some of his musical heroes and inspirations.  Here are some of them!

(click images to enlarge)

I have to talk about somebody for a second.  This giant of a man once said, "If you're gonna kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use both feet."  Nobody in rock and roll has survived as long, while still kicking, as hard as him.  Behold, the work of the master.  Long after humanity incinerates itself in nuclear war, the only things left are cockcroaches... and Keith Richards.  All rise, all rise, for a true rock and roll immortal.  The maestro, my hero, my friend, Keith Richards.

                        -Johnny Depp, presenting Keith Richards with the Scream Rock Immortal Award, October 17, 2009

Who did you want to be when you like that kid with a tennis racket in front of the mirror-- who are your heroes?

Johnny was asked this question by Matt Everitt on BBC 6Music in a 2013 interview.  His response was:  "Let's see, man, I mean pshhhh, boy, so many.  I mean, as a little kid, when I was about 12 and I first started playing, I mean the guy... the guitarists that I loved were, certainly Keith, you know Keith Richards was always a huge hero.  Joe Perry from Aerosmith, I always thought had a very interesting style.  Jeff Beck, of course.  Jimmy Page.

Elsewhere in the interview, he's asked about Shane MacGowan:  "Doing anything with Shane is unpredictable, but it's beautifully unpredictable.  Shane has never been accused of boring anyone, that's for sure.  He's a magnificent man and species.  He's a special being, and to me, one of the most important poets of the times, of the 20th Century, for sure."

Johnny congratulates The Rolling Stones on their 50th Anniversary, November 2012:

Johnny participated in a video tribute to the Stones shown on November 25 at their opening concert of their five date 50th Anniversary tour at the O2 Arena in London.  The video was also shown at the other shows in London, Brooklyn, and Newark.


Johnny discusses Woody Guthrie in the New York Times, July 2012:

"Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on bluegrass and country music,” Depp said in an e-mail interview. He’s listened to Guthrie all his life, although “it is thanks to Bob Dylan that the man and his music became solidified in my lexicon.  [Guthrie] represents the soul and the sound of the America that I love.”

From Stephen Jones' book Amplified Silence, 2012:

amplified silence

From the December 11, 2009 Entertainment Weekly:

My Essentials, by Johnny Depp

Johnny discusses his favorite music, by Tom Waits, Chuck E. Weiss, Bob Dylan,
Babybird, Augie March, Vanessa Paradis, Bat For Lashes, The Pogues,
Keith Richards, Serge Gainsbourg, The Rolling Stones, and Patti Smith

(click to enlarge)

EW music1   EW music 2

From the liner notes of the 2008 Iggy & The Stooges Escaped Maniacs DVD:

escaped maniacs blurb

From the January 2008 Rolling Stone:
rolling stone 2008

From the 2003 Emily Blunt Interview

 I thought of Keith [Richards, for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow] because I was trying to figure out what pirates might have been like, their lifestyle back in the 18th century, and I thought, oh man, they were the rock and roll stars of the era. On the road to some degree, freedom, adventure, women, outlaw behavior, all of that stuff. And you see the greatest rock and roll star of all time, there are so many options, but to me it's Keith Richards hands down.

 I've always been interested in… I guess fringe may be a way of putting it. The people that I've always admired in whatever the arena, whether it's art or film, whatever, music, have always been the people who came in from the outside, who didn't just - I prefer Daniel Johnston to Mariah Carey. You know what I mean? Really by far; like really. A Daniel Johnston, I admire very much. I don't know. It's the kind of people I've always been drawn to.

From the February 2000 French Studio

(Click images to enlarge and to read the original French passages.  I do not speak French, but I used Google Translation and a French-English Dictionary and then tried my best to make the passages sound like spoken English.  Please let me know if there are any glaring inaccuracies!)

Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop

Iggy, that's all. A lifestyle, a hero and more. He is the American Antonin Artaud [French playwright, poet, actor and director] of our era. He is deeply engaged in everything, is not selfish and goes to the end of his convictions. It is impossible to destabilize him or make a path other than one he wants to follow. Since I was a child almost, Iggy is a hero to me. And while it is now known for many years that we are now friends, in my eyes, he is even more a hero than before. He is home to a profound truth that is very rare ... Today, our meetings are left to chance. But there was a time, there were five-six years, and I was often in New York or we saw a lot of one another. Every evening, four of us friends went out together: Iggy, me, Jim Jarmusch and Jonathan, a tattoo artist who had been working on me. We dined, we drank, we talked about everything: music, cinema, painting, television, absurdities, everything. These soirees were very stimulating, very creative. A very beautiful memory.

(Read about Johnny's Guest Session with Iggy Pop on Hollywood Affair, and their 1999 Live appearance together in Paris)
Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson

He is provocative, very intelligent, with an interior richness. His approach is to denounce large scale hypocrisy, and so many people see him as someone who wants to do piss off the world. The press was very tough with him, accusing him of demagoguery and seeking to be an idol of young people. This is not the case. Marilyn Manson faults a general hypocrisy and that of a particular religion. He knows the Bible very well and especially the most violent passages, like how it is suggested that one can kill a child if he goes against his parents. The reason why people hate, he puts forward their lies and sees them as they are. Although these people claim to be the good citizens, they are a lie themselves. They're of others, their own brothers. In this sense, I think that Marilyn Manson really has his place in today's world.
Jacques Dutronc
Jacques Lanzmann

“Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pas ça,” “The Play-boys,” “The Opportunist” ... Most of the songs written by Jacques Dutronc with Jacques Lanzmann are unbelievable. So ahead of their time. In 1966, the Rolling Stones were regarded as a dangerous, but when you listen nowadays to Stones songs of this era, it is clear that the association of Dutronc-Lanzmann was far more subversive. For me, Lanzmann and Dutronc were perhaps the first punks.
Taraf de Haïdouks
They are a group of Rom musicians that I recently met on the filming of The Man Who Cried. They set an example for me in the way in which they deal with things in life. Despite what they experience, what they have to face - I am talking about the racism against the Roma gypsies which exists everywhere today, and has for centuries - despite all this, they are capable of playing music that expresses intense joy, a pure state of joy. They have the gift to make you feel alive. They are among the most extraordinary people I have met.

(Read more about Taraf de Haïdouks on the Johnny Depp Rocks! Taraf de Haidouks page)
Chuck E. Weiss
He has been a friend for a long time. Chuck E. has always lived in Los Angeles. He is a singer and composer, and for many years, he has done his best to avoid succeeding, to escape commercial success and not even signing a contract with a record company. Then last year, Chuck E. finally made this record [Extremely Cool], that I like very much. He's really a great composer, even if not famous and does not go in the usual circles.

(Read more about Chuck E. Weiss on the Johnny Depp Rocks! Chuck E. Weiss page)
Serge Gainsbourg

Gainsbourg I discovered shortly after his death, during my first real long stay in Paris. It was in 1991, during the interruption of the filming of Arizona Dream. I immediately liked a lot what he was doing, and even if I did not understand the lyrics, I felt them intuitively through music, intonation, the timbre of his voice. Since coming to Paris in 1998, I really dove into Gainsbourg, and I made an effort to understand his words. And, it has been a real shock. I discovered a dimension that went far beyond anything I could have imagined. So alive, so intelligent. For me, Gainsbourg is untouchable. And then he said one of the most beautiful things that I have heard: "Ugliness is superior to beauty: it lasts longer." It's beautiful, right? There are two people that I really wish to meet: John Lennon and Serge Gainsbourg.
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

One of the three major poets of the century, I think, with Allen Ginsberg and Shane MacGowan of the Pogues. Dylan has a deep understanding of the human being. More than a poet, he is a prophet. When he wrote "The Times They Are A-Changin’," in 1962 or 1963, it was before Kennedy was assassinated. Now, this song was a veritable prophecy, the prediction of change that would occur. The lyrics announced that change, and very clearly, nobody has heard. 1963, the Kennedy assassination, was the end of innocence. And Dylan had seen it before the world did. A few years ago, shortly after Ed Wood, I received a phone call from a guy who told me to work with him. Bob Dylan had seen some of my movies and wanted to meet. I of course agreed and I joined Dylan during his tour. He spoke of his desire to adapt to cinema a song that appears on his album Knocked Out Loaded, "Brownsville Girl," and he wanted to know whether I would play in it. I listened to the song, which was brilliant, which sounded like a movie already. He said that two screenwriters have worked on this project, including Jay Cocks, the author of the Age of Innocence. I was so proud, honored by the mere fact that Dylan knew who I was. He is very gentle, kind, fascinating.
La Mer
La Mer

The most beautiful song in the world, for me, is "The Sea" by Charles Trenet.

The sea
Let us see dancing
Along the gulfs clear
A reflections money
The sea,
The changing reflections
When it rains.

The sea,
In the summer sky confuses
His white sheep
With angels so pure
The sea
Sheperdess d'Azur

From a What's Eating Gilbert Grape interview, circa 1993:

     Johnny is asked about the Austin music scene and his feelings about country music.  He mentions Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Hank Williams as examples of country musicians he grew up listening to.

Watch YouTube interview here  (Music discussion begins at about 1:45)

From the 1990 Summer Wow Teen Magazine:

summer wow

From the September 1988 Splice Teen Magazine:
(transcript available on Johnny Depp Fan, Johnny Depp Zone, Depp Impact and many other Depp fansites)

I listen to a lot of [Bob] Dylan, who I like a lot. I like Bruce Springsteen. I like T. Rex. I like all different kinds of music. One minute I'll be listening to Benny Goodman and the next I'll be listening to the Sex Pistols!