The legend of Reckless Johnny Wales began in Dorchester, under the shadow of Boston’s high buildings, the Savin Hill subway station and only corners away from where New Kidz On The Block faced puberty. At ten years old his heroes were Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. “That whole rock n roll thing grabbed me,” he says.
But the folk/rock melodies and protest lyrics of the sixties were the hammer that forged and shaped his musical pathway. First it was the famous Club 47 in Harvard Square where icons like Joan Baez and Dylan would appear. “It was the end of Jack Kerouac and the beginning of Ken Kesey,” say RJW. “I was in college, playing guitar around Boston and hitchhiking to Greenwich village.”
After two years in school, the draft interrupted and Reckless Johnny Wales served a three-year stint in the Navy during the Viet Nam era. Moving from boat to bay, San Francisco swept him up in its multi-year summer of love—performing, writing songs, soundtracks for porno movies and owning a studio.
Eventually the winds of change swallowed Reckless and spit him out on Nashville’s Music Row in 1980. Tired of the road, our hero found himself working as an independent promoter and eventually getting hired by Warner Bros. Nashville where he rose through the ranks to Senior VP of Promotions. “I worked a ton of No. 1s and hits with artists like Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Jr., Randy Travis, Faith Hill, and Dwight Yoakam,” he says. “I won Billboard awards four out of five years in a row.” Reckless evolved into running the label’s international department, traveling, making contacts, searching for talent and bringing Nashville acts to the far corners of the earth. It was a cosmic experience until the Warner/AOL merger in 2001, when RJW was made “an offer he could not refuse” and a ticket back to music — full time. Actually fate smiled upon his fans…