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Old 01-07-2013, 08:15 PM   #1
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Unhappy "Chevy Van" Singer Sammy Johns 1946-2013

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Sammy Johns’ song about a chance encounter with a girl sat on the shelves of a record company for nearly two years before being released in 1975.

That song, “Chevy Van,” went on to sell 3 million copies and was called “The Song of the Seventies” by Rolling Stone magazine. It reached No. 5 on the charts in the United States and Canada.

Johns, who was born in Charlotte but spent most of his life in Gaston County, died Friday at Gaston Memorial Hospital. He was 66.

“Chevy Van,” with its iconic opening guitar chord riff of “A/A sustained/B minor/D/E,” was Johns’ only hit record. But he wrote gold-record songs for other artists, including “America,” which was one of Waylon Jennings’ biggest hits.

Johns graduated from Belmont High School in 1962 and formed a rock band, the Devilles. That group performed across the region, but Johns’ career took off when he wrote “Chevy Van” in 1973.

At first, the song remained on the shelves of a record company, something Johns later said “was just part of the business.

The song finally was released about 18 months later, and Johns became a national music figure.

To many, “Chevy Van” symbolized the free-love era of the early 1970s, with its story of a man on a cross-country journey and his meeting with a young woman.

“That was the era of hippies, with free love and all that,” Johns told WBT radio personality Keith Larson in an interview last May. “I was sort of a hippie -- a conservative hippie.” He said the song wasn’t about a specific woman he met -- but a compilation of events.

He recorded several other songs, but none ever came close to equalling “Chevy Van.” However, he enjoyed success as a writer, penning Jennings’ “America,” along with “Common Man” for John Conlee.

Johns dealt with problems in his life, including publicized battles with alcohol and drugs. He was married and divorced several times.

In a 2000 interview with The Observer, he said the music business “was painful at times, but never boring.”

But he remained active in the music business, releasing a CD in the early 2000s and appearing at the Grand Ol’ Opry a few years ago.

Visitation is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at McLean Funeral Directors, 515 North Central Avenue, in Belmont. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Bumgardner Chapel at McLean Funeral Directors.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:28 PM   #2
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiEIToOWr64
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGz_xSSgjY0
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:05 PM   #3
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I am so sorry to hear about his death. I loved his music. I even wrote a book based on his song called. "Love me in my Chevy Van" I sent a letter to Sammy asking him if it was alright that I used the title and that the story was based on his song. I never heard back from him, or his people.

The story is about a guy in the 70s whose had 2 important loves in his life that he lost. 1 who dies a violent death, and the other he lost because of a serious mistake he made. These 2 loves revolve around a 1978 Chevy van conversion that he owned. R.I.P. Sammy. were gonna miss you buddy. :-(
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:27 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear of his death, but I hated that whimpy song.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckie
Sorry to hear of his death, but I hated that whimpy song.
That song was far from whimpy, definitely one of the best of the 70's. If you want whimpy then go to youtube and watch "Having My baby", "Seasons in the Sun", "Danny's Song", Etc... I would post them here but I won't disrespect an obituary thread.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:23 PM   #6
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Very sad to hear about his passing & I always liked that Chevy Van song.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:29 PM   #7
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Boy, if there was ever a song that screamed "70's", it was that song in 1975.

I thought the song was pretty good for Top 40 fluff, but boy, did I EVER want a Chevy Van with those cool custom paint jobs and an 8-track!!! I think on that one early episode of 'Facts Of Life' with Blair and that one hunky guy, it was referred to as a Makeout-Mobile.
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Old 01-12-2013, 02:34 AM   #8
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I know this song is one of the reasons I got a Chevy Van, complete with a bean bag chair, etc...
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:57 AM   #9
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My husband and I had two 70's Chevy vans. Completely carpeted (walls too!) and covered with posters! We had an 8 track player.The exterior had a mural. Really far-out Man!
RIP Sammy
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