Friday, July 11, 2008
Alain Johannes is the ultimate journeyman musician.
For more than 20 years, he's either played in or been associated with some of my favorite bands. The man is like the Kevin Bacon of rock and roll -- never more than a few degrees of separation away from anyone musically worthwhile. Back in the 80s, he was the frontman for a band called What Is This?, who were responsible for a spectacular cover of The Spinners' I'll Be Around and featured, on guitar and drums, future Red Hot Chili Peppers Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons, respectively (Irons eventually joined Pearl Jam). Johannes went on to link up with partner Natasha Shneider -- a Moscow-born actress who starred as the gorgeous, frightened cosmonaut in 2010 -- and the two formed Walk the Moon, then Eleven. Johannes meanwhile undertook side projects with the likes of Jason Faulkner of Jellyfish and played with Chris Cornell on his solo album, Euphoria Morning.
For the past couple of years, he's played with Queens of the Stone Age and, most recently, with Brody Dalle -- wife of Queens mastermind Josh Homme -- in her new band, Spinnerette.
I bring all of this up, though, not because of Alain Johannes, but because of Shneider -- his longtime co-conspirator and contributor to both the Cornell project and Queens of the Stone Age.
She died of cancer last week at the age of 52.
She was as talented as she was beautiful, and her contributions to the rock and roll landscape won't soon be forgotten. Even if you never knew her name, you felt her musical presence.
From their 1993 self-titled album, here's Eleven with Reach Out.