Johnny Leopard: The Fans Remember

Click here to read the article from the West Australian Newspaper
Click here to read the article from the West Australian Newspaper

Pictures taken at the Anzac Eve gig at the Leopold Hotel in April 2005, by Suburbs fan Brian Ingleton


JOHN RYAN: 1953-2005

Hi Dave,
We’re so grateful for your band’s performances in Perth last year — thankyou. We were lucky enough to get amongst it at the Civic, the stellar 2004 Anzac Day gig at The Leopold and also at the EFFC. What fantastic performances you all gave! It was therefore with disbelief and great sorrow that we read about the passing of the very talented and irreplaceable John. A unique and truly great entertainer who
will be sadly missed. Sincere condolences to all who knew him.
Vale JL — Forever Young
K & R

Leopard4My favourite memory of Leppo was bumping into him at a gig by Motorhead at the White Sands in 1984. He looked wryly over at the massive PA Lemmy & co had for the gig, handed my mate and I some balls of cotton wool, smiled and said: “Here, you may need these, son”. My mate saved his cotton wool balls for years afterward, considering them to be holy relics of rock & roll.
Phillip Kelly

It was with immense sadness that I read about the passing of Johnny Leopard, I was introduced to Suburbs music when I was 10 years old through Convict Streak and Mugs Game and from henceforth it was instilled in my culture to catch you guys live when I could. I was at the last gig and feel immensely privileged to see the guitar god at work for the last time, he was in fine form and as we sang all those classic songs we couldn’t help but think about how you guys changed my view of showmanship forever.

Leopard3Johnny once said to me after a gig at the Inglewood last year that I was the youngest fan of the Suburbs ever and must of been feeding from the bottle when I first heard those gutsy raw guitar notes from the master. RIP Johnny Leopard, we at the Robbins clan will be forever indebted to you and your
music and only hope in the future we may catch up in the big gig in the sky.
Miss you already.
Jason Robbins
(Scarborough, WA)

Leopard2In Memory of Johnny Leopard
I remember one night in Sydney at the Kardomah Cafe. Johnny was in amazing form. He
spat a mouthful of beer into my mates mouth. We were right into seeing bands at the time and were part of the “Suburban Army”. We still reminisce that this night was probably the best gig we ever went to. Some things you remember for the rest of your life.
All the best.
Craig Wilkinson

Sorry you/we have lost John. A tough time. My request seems pretty insignificant now, after reading your news. I’ve a cassette of Free Kicks and it’s Leopard1kinda worn out over time. I was going to ask you if you were going to put more songs for download — for a price — on the website? But to heck with it, I’m gunna order Suburbs in the 70’s … as much a mark of respect for John and the rest of you — for the memories from the leafy western suburbs, Mosman Park hotel now gone, Shents now gone, and Swanbourne high now gone — as my desire for the music.
My thoughts are with you.
Tim Law

I heard the news about John late on Friday and I’ve been in the country all weekend so couldn’t get in touch before. I haven’t seen John for a long time, but I’m so sad about his death. It’s only a year since Gunther, and now this. I now live in Melbourne only a few blocks from the house in South Yarra where John and I stayed on the first Suburbs tour — the house where John introduced me to the New York Dolls, opened my eyes to Zappa and where he and I lived while we recorded Mugs Game. Walking down Toorak Road past that street (and past the site of the souvlaki bar where I passed out one night buying a late night snack for John and me) has always brought back great memories. Now there’ll be a real sorrow about it all too

Those days were wonderful and John was at the centre of it all. I’ve never seen anyone, anywhere, who could ignite a room the way he could – I’ll never forget the day in the downstairs room at Bombay Rock (I think it was a Saturday afternoon gig) when he leapt off the stage, raced through the crowd and started eating a large pot plant on side of the room, all the time playing the most manic solo. The place went berserk. If the Suburbs had been a New York or London band, John would have been a
world legend, not just an Australian one. I’m not surprised that John took up lawn bowls — he was always very much the gentleman and delighted in playing games like Yahtse, Pinuckle and 500 into the small hours after a gig. He wasn’t a great one for the nightclub life as I recall.

I don’t know if you remember the project he dreamed up at another Melbourne house we shared on tour — the one around the corner from Dobe Newton’s in North Fitzroy. John thought that it would be a great idea to put out a guitar tutor book, but instead of finger positions and scales, he wanted to have pictures of him in different poses – there would be one pose for a G chord, another for E, another for a dimished chord and so on. I don’t know if he ever did it, but it was a great idea. I’ll always remember John’s friendhip, his loyalty to his friends, his graciousness to fans, his sense of humour and his ability to nail a poseur at 20 paces. In recent years I would have loved a chance to be part of one of the various Suburbs revivals, but distance and other things always seemed to get in the way. Now I doubt that it could ever happen again — at least not in the same way. I’m sure you’ll be feeling the loss of John more acutely than just about anyone else apart from his immediate family. Take care. Perhaps when you’re next in Melbourne we could have a drink to John’s memory.

I won’t be able to get to Perth for the funeral, but I’ll be thinking of John on the day. I’ll never forget him.
Best wishes
Paul Noonan

Dave, I just heard about the Leopard. How sad. I’m thinking about you, you probably leaned on him (and vice versa) more than you ever realised.
Christie Eliezer

Dave, Kate and I were so very sorry to hear about John. We are absolutely gutted, but can only imagine what this tragic loss means to you, the rest of the band and other close friends.
In sadness
Brian Ingleton

Hello Dave,
I just got called this morning by dad, and he told me the news, and so I immediately rushed to your site and read the full story. It comes as a great shock to me, and heaven knows what it’s like for
you… My deepest sympathies to everyone. There are a few good men in this world, a few that stand above the others and lend a hand to those in need, and i believe as much as everyone must, that John Ryan, AKA Johnny Leopard was one of those men, and in his passing, continues to be so. I hope that these words help you and his family in overcoming this, and as i said before it is such a great loss to the world of music, especially quality Australian music. Best of luck with everything, and i hope that you find a way to go on, because From The Suburbs is a piece of Australian Tresure, and it would be tragic to lose it.
Deepest Sympathies
Jordan Ingleton

Very sorry to hear this tragic news — Australian Rock just can’t take a trick as Johnny’s name gets added to the long list of those who left too early! I’ve had some e-mails this morning and a lot are doing the rounds after The West article. Everyone has a gig or a memory to share. For me, apart from the gigs it’s his Hans Merks impersonation at the Chelsea or him holding up the target for the handball comp at the Shents during your footy preview shows 20 years ago — while Baby Doll performed next door!! I’ll buy the DVD and explain to my kids, who I’ve corrupted with all my tastes in R’n’R , as we watch it, that they are watching a legend who wrote played and lived Australian rock and culture!!
Very very sorry, Dave
Marcus Ahern

Dave, deepest sympathy on the sad loss of your mate & fellow musician. I have many happy memories of his stage antics, and the banter between the 2 of you.
John Oliver

So sad to hear the news about The Leopard — I ran with the Costello boys (Neil, Steve and Warren) in the late 70s and must have laughed /cringed at the Leopard sneer at least 50 times over that time. Having seen him most recently at the Old Day Out, I actually remarked that he was one of the better preserved guys of our vintage — and he still had that great guitar thrashing method happening. I think I had better buy that DVD now — perhaps two as I may just wear one out — I’ll put it up on the big screen at home, turn it up real loud and drink a beer or two to a great bloke.
Simon Forrester

Had a friend call me from Perth with the unbelievable news re Johnny. Just wanted to pass on that our thoughts are with you and the Band and all of Johnny’s family, friends and fans. He had special
smile that was just so infectious. His vibrance and energy on stage will long be remembered.
W with warm regards and deepest sympathies
Marty Boyle

I am in total shock after hearing the news of Johnny Leopard this morning and just wanted to send my condolences to you, because I can well imagine the news has hit you for six. I’m sorry you’ve lost a good mate. All ageing Leopard followers will be absolutely devastated by the news, losing one of
Perth’s most colourful and entertaining guitarists. I loved the guy so much. I spent many hours of my youth at pubs around Perth, dancing and singing along with Dave Warner’s From The Suburbs and I’m just so sorry I didn’t get to the last gig at the Leopold Hotel. It was only a few months ago that I bumped into fellow Dave Warner fans. We reminisced, sang lines from our favourite songs and of course remembered famous Johnny Leopard antics. We promised ourselves we’d go to the next performance and relive our youth — it didn’t happen. Can’t believe now it will never happen.
I hate to think he’s gone, instead I’d rather think he’s just gone hitch-hiking.
Regards, a fan from long ago xx
Jill Porter

Dave, I’m really very sorry to hear the news about John. He was a fantastic entertainer — I never got to meet him, but I’ll never forget him.
Best regards
Geoff Elliott
(Now in Washington)

Sorry to here about Johnny Lep. May his air-conditioned Guitar play on.
All the Best
Rodney Millikan

Absolutely devastated to hear about Johnny. It was only just over a couple of weeksago at The Leopold I plucked up the courage to ask Johnny for his autograph and had a quick friendly chat. He really shone on stage and with no disrespect to yourself he was every bit the star as you are. Please accept my sincere condolences.
Best Regards
Dave Pelham

I want to send my very sincere condolences on the death of Johnny Leopard. I was stunned when someone showed me the paper yesterday. My friends and I have been fans for a long time and last saw you and the band perform at the Leopold around Xmas time. It was a fantastic show and the
image of John leaning over to lick your face will always stay with me. I had a few wines and played Mug’s Game last night in his memory. I remember reading an article where you had said that when you were looking for a guitarist John was only one who “got” what you were on about. He will be
missed by many.
Thanks for all the years of entertainment.
Deborah Street

Wow, blown away at the news of Johnny’s passing. I’m just an old fan from past days here in Perth, sympathy to all of Johnny’s family and to the rest of the band and to you Dave.
52 — it’s just way too young.
Vale JL
Stuart Rapley