Black Star Riders guitarist and co-founding member Damon Johnson will exit the band at the end of the year with Stone Sour’s Christian Martucci replacing him.
The band confirmed today (17th September) that Damon has decided to quit the band to focus on his solo career and session work. He will, however, continue his ventures with Thin Lizzy and with Ricky Warwick in Warwick Johnson.
Black Star Riders held auditions in Los Angeles in August and cherry-picked Christian Martucci as their new axeman.
Commenting on his departure, Damon says: "Three excellent albums in six years with this great band is one of the proudest achievements of my career, and it has been glorious.
“My family and I have decided to focus our efforts into growing my solo career and I'm excited to be home more to take advantage of working and writing in Nashville.
“Though I'm moving on from BSR, I will continue to work with Ricky in "Warwick Johnson", and plan on being a part of any Thin Lizzy commitments in the future. Much love and continued success to the entire band and to the incredible Black Star Riders fans worldwide."
Damon Johnson © REX/Shutterstock
Thunder’s Luke Morley will temporarily stand in for Damon on Black Star Riders’ South American dates in Chile, Argentina & Brazil this November before Damon returns for their UK tour.
These dates – including their headline appearance at Planet Rockstock on Saturday 1st December – will be Damon’s last shows with the band.
Guitarist Scott Gorham says of their departing guitarist: “I just want to thank Damon for being part of the band and three great records together and I wish him all the best. For BSR it’s onwards and upwards!”
Singer Ricky Warwick comments: “Damon Johnson is my bro and I love him. It’s been a wonderful journey for the last 6 years writing, recording and playing live with him, moulding, building and making Black Star Riders into the formidable force that we have become. I totally respect his decision, he will always be family. I will miss him.”
Bassist Robert Crane continues: “I’m so thankful to have shared this amazing musical journey with our brother Damon. I’m hopeful our paths cross again one day. Love and respect to D.J. and his family.”
Enthusing about joining Black Star Riders’ ranks, Christian Martucci says: “As a fan who’s been inspired by their music, it’s an honour and privilege to be a part of Black Star Riders. I’m really looking forward to this!”
Ricky Warwick says of his new bandmate: “Christian Martucci is a sonic force of nature, an insanely talented guitar player and a wonderful human being and I’m delighted he has become part of the BSR family.
“His musical pedigree speaks for itself. He will be an amazing addition to Black Star Riders, bringing a new edge and dynamic presence to the band. I eagerly look forward to writing, recording album number 4 and touring the world with him, Robert, Scott and Chad. The best way to predict the future is to go and create it. The best is yet to come!”
Also waxing lyrical, Scott Gorham says: “I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with Christian. He is an amazing player and an awesome addition to the Black Star Riders family.”
Lavishing Christian with praise, Robert Crane adds: “Much like seeing Chad Szeliga playing our songs for the first time, we all knew from the first chord that Christian was the guy... Straight up, he’s a badass! Let’s go!”
Black Star Riders will hit the studio in early 2019 to commence work on their fourth studio album.
Damon Johnson’s last shows with the band are as follows:
Buckley Tivoli – Wed 28th
Southampton Engine Room – Thu 29th
Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms – Fri 30th
Planet Rockstock – Sat 1st – SOLD OUT
Holmfirth Picturedrome – Sun 2nd
Sheffield Corporation – Mon 3rd