Music Monthly

Insights on Music's Restorative Power from Legends Damon Johnson & Rick Rushing

Damon Johnson

From playing with Alice Cooper and Lynyrd Skynyrd to writing for Santana and Stevie Nicks, musician, singer, and songwriter Damon Johnson has made his mark in the music industry for decades–a feat many aspire to achieve, but don't attain. 

You've been playing in a band since as early as eighth grade. To what do you attribute your longevity in the business?

I was not thinking about this as a career. There was no path. I was going to be an electrical engineer, but I was always in a band. I was obsessed with music.

For me, as I look back, my work ethic is pretty impeccable. That's the key, putting in the work and the time. Practicing your instrument. The ten thousand hours. When I became a songwriter, that was another ten thousand hours. Those are two different things and I wanted to be good at both of them.

I have to say there is no way I would have made it this long and played with or written for all those bands you mentioned if it wasn't for Brother Cane, which created all of those opportunities. I love it and there has been so much joy in it.

Rick Rushing

You are very intentional about changing the perception of mental health and therapy. Why is that?

We are losing so many artists. We are losing so many people in general. My school counselor as a kid was a very important person to me and I wanted to do what she did. Before I was a musician, I was a social worker. I remember taking my guitar to the children's psychiatric hospital and they would just be so excited. Suppression leads to a lot of unhealthy things. Expressing yourself through music and listening to music is therapeutic. Music therapy is fulfilling to me."

You provide music therapy for all ages but emphasize the importance of children learning to play an instrument. Tell us more about that.

I've seen firsthand how it's changed many of my students. Learning an instrument requires focus and discipline. Rather than providing medicine automatically, try giving them an instrument. Kids need to learn good habits and practice is a good habit.


Brother Cane just wrapped up its 30th anniversary tour in Memphis, but have already announced that they plan to tour in 2024. In the meantime, check out their newest singles "Blinded By The Sun" and "Are You In There Anymore" available on all streaming platforms.


Follow Rick Rushing on social media for information about his next shows. Rushing is currently providing music therapy at The Chattanooga Family Justice Center. For more information or to schedule a music therapy session, email thrive@chattanooga.gov. 

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