Johnny Bacolas

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Johnny Bacolas
Johnny Bacolas - Jan 2016 T.jpg
Johnny Bacolas
Background information
Birth nameYiannis Sotiris Bacolas
Born (1969-03-03) March 3, 1969 (age 49)
GenresHard rock, grunge, electronica, world music
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, songwriter, audio engineer, director, videographer, editor
InstrumentsBass guitar, guitar, Greek bouzouki
Years active1985–present
LabelsCapitol, Timestyle Music, Red Rocket, Electric Head Records
Associated actsSleze, Alice N' Chains, Second Coming, Darin Isaacs
The Crying Spell, Lotus Crush, Yianni Bacolas, Owin' Soul, The Rumba Kings

Johnny Bacolas (Greek: Γιάννης Μπάkολας; classical transcription Yiannis Bacolas) born March 3, 1969, in Seattle, Washington, is a composer, musician, producer, music video director, and videographer. He is best known for his work with the post-grunge band Second Coming.[1][2][3] He was also a founding member of the band Sleze, which was later renamed Alice N' Chains (a precursor to Alice in Chains that also featured vocalist Layne Staley),[4] The Crying Spell,[1] Lotus Crush.[5] and The Rumba Kings.

Early life[edit]

Johnny Bacolas is a first-generation American born to Greek parents in Seattle, Washington. His father was a restaurateur, and leased jukeboxes that played in his cocktail lounges. The jukeboxes played 45 RMP vinyl records, which he rotated from month to month. Bacolas approached music through these records that his father brought home whenever he changed the jukeboxes. His earliest influences were The Beatles, Elton John, and old Motown. Some of his later influences were hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Kiss, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden; he was also influenced by Greek music and house music. As a child and teen, he spent the majority of his summers in Greece. Bacolas met his future bandmate James Bergstrom when they were both five years old on their first day of kindergarten. He then began playing the electric guitar at the age of 12.

Musical career[edit]

Sleze and Alice N' Chains (1984–1987)[edit]

Bacolas at age 15 performing with Sleze

In 1984, Bacolas started a garage band called Sleze along with James Bergstrom and two other Shorewood High students, Zoli Semanate and Byron Hansen.[4][6] At the suggestion of Bergstrom's friend Ken Elmer, they recruited Elmer's stepbrother Layne Staley, who back then also went by the surname Elmer, as vocalist.[4][6] In 1985, Sleze began performing live at various high schools with Bacolas on guitar. They mostly played Slayer and Armored Saint covers. Sleze went through several lineup changes before they eventually changed their name to Alice N' Chains. At one point, Bacolas briefly left the group to jam with another band called Ascendant, where he took up playing bass guitar. By the time he rejoined Sleze, the band had already written what would eventually be recorded on the two demos they put out under the moniker Alice N' Chains. The group continued to tour throughout the Seattle area before they broke up around 1987, which was the year that Bacolas graduated from Shorewood High.

A few months after Alice N' Chains broke up, Layne Staley joined the glam metal[7] band that eventually took the name Alice in Chains, which Bacolas later claimed was the name that the two of them along with the other members of Sleze had initially flirted with.[8] Throughout the rest of his career, Staley continued to stay in touch with Bacolas and the two of them shared an apartment during the mid-1990s.

Second Coming (1991–2008)[edit]

Meanwhile, Bacolas continued working with James Bergstrom in another band called Second Coming. In 1994, they independently released their debut album L.O.V.Evil, which features a guest appearance by Layne Staley on the track "It's Coming After". In 1996 Bacolas and Bergstrom replaced the vocalist/guitarist of the group. In the subsequent months, the new members of Second Coming wrote, produced, and financed an 8-song demo (which was produced by Kelly Gray and Dudley Taft). The band performed cover songs on the outskirts of Seattle under the moniker, F.T.A. to finance the demo. Once the recording was finished, the band dropped their cover act, and began performing solely as Second Coming. The band subsequently generated a massive buzz in the Seattle area performing their original songs. On May 9, 1998, Second Coming signed an exclusive recording agreement with Capitol Records Inc. and released their eponymous second album Second Coming. Second Coming had three singles chart in Billboard's active-rock chart ("Soft" #9, "Vintage Eyes" #10, and "The Unknown Rider" #11). The band had one of its songs "The Unknown Rider" featured in the 1999 blockbuster Bruce Willis film The Sixth Sense. The band toured extensively throughout the US supporting and performing with acts such as Van Halen, Candlebox, Monster Magnet, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Fuel, Sponge, Sammy Hagar, and The Goo Goo Dolls. The band split from Capitol Records in 2002 after the departure of Gary Gersh, the president who signed them to the label. Following the split, they independently released an EP titled Acoustic and third studio album 13. Second Coming were purportedly working on a fourth album that was due to be released in 2007, however, the band has since broken up.

Other projects (2009–2014)[edit]

From 2004–2007, Bacolas focused on his production skills by apprenticing as a producer and audio engineer for multi-platinum producer/engineer Kelly Gray. During this time, in 2006, Bacolas helped start another band called The Crying Spell, which played "Man in the Box" with Live vocalist Ed Kowalczyk at the 2009 Layne Staley Tribute Concert.

Kelly Gray and Johnny Bacolas at Avast Studios

In early 2008, Bacolas partnered with electronica producer, Andrea Martini (Emotive Sounds, Copenhagen, Denmark) to produce Trance and House remixes, primarily of songs he had prior song-writing and/or production involvement with.

Bacolas working at London Bridge Studio, Seattle, WA

Also in 2008, Bacolas is credited for co-producing a track titled, "The Great Big Sleep" for Clive Barker's 2008 horror film, The Midnight Meat Train.

Bacolas left The Crying Spell early in 2010 to focus on his songwriting, music and video productions, and other endeavors with other recording artists. He started his production company, Johnny Bacolas Productions, in January 2010.

In 2010 Bacolas performed several shows as the bassist for the group Lotus Crush. The group features vocalist Terry McDermott, who was made famous on the third season of NBC's The Voice (2012) as the 2nd runner-up. Lotus Crush also features guitarist Peter Klett and drummer Scott Mercado from the multi-platinum group Candlebox.

Lotus Crush acoustic set – Oct. 2010

In December 2011, Bacolas released a video for the Greek classic 'To Agalma' of which he produced and engineered the music and co-directed and produced the video. The song was originally recorded in the late sixties by Greek singer Giannis Poulopoulos and written by the highly respected songwriters, Lefteris Papadopoulos & Mimis Plessas. Bacolas is also credited as the bassist and keyboardist on the track. The project was an international collaboration, featuring several artists from Bacolas' hometown of Seattle, and well as well-known Greek vocalist Giorgos Sarris (formerly lead vocalist for Greek group Zigk Zagk) from Athens, Greece, and guitarist Josh Sulfaro, from Los Angeles, CA. To film the shots of vocalist, Giorgos Sarris in Athens, Greece, Bacolas partnered-up with Greek director Sherif francis.

In June 2011, Bacolas produced a track titled "Ophelia" by the Alexandroupolis, Greece-based group, INK. Bacolas makes a cameo appearance in the official music video.

In May 2012, Bacolas produced and released a remake of George Michael's Careless Whisper with X-Factor USA (2011) contestant Tiger Budbill.

The Rumba Kings[edit]

In June 2015, Bacolas formed the Latin & Mediterranean inspired group, The Rumba Kings, with Romany-Gypsy guitarist/songwriter, George Stevens. Bacolas and Stevens began recording The Rumba King's debut double-disc CD titled, "The Instrumental and Vocal Sessions, Vol I." Johnny Bacolas produced and engineered the record, as well as being a primary songwriter. Recording of the music took place in Lakeview Studio in Kirkland, WA., Northside Studio in Athens, Greece, Sofita Studio in Athens, Greece, and Robert Lang Studio in Shoreline, WA. Recording was completed in January 2018, with a release date schedule for February 17, 2018. The Rumba Kings began performing live in the greater Seattle area beginning in April 2016 to present day.

Personal life[edit]

Bacolas has admitted to using cannabis back in the mid-1990s.[9] In August 2006, he checked into a holistic treatment center in Malibu, California to address his on-off addiction to the prescription drug Xanax, which had initially been prescribed to help him cope with his anxiety from flying that he developed while touring with Second Coming. James Bergstrom and another friend drove Bacolas all the way from Seattle to Malibu, which took them approximately two days, where he then checked-in for a 30-day treatment program.


Second Coming
Year Album details
1994 L.O.V.Evil
  • Released: June 16, 1994
  • Label: Red Rocket
1998 Second Coming
  • Released: September 22, 1998
  • Label: Timestyle/Capitol
2002 Acoustic
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Timestyle
2003 13
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Timestyle
Darin Isaacs
Year Album details
2007 Here with Me Now
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Electric Head
The Crying Spell
Year Album details
2008 Through Hell to Heaven
  • Released: July 15, 2008
  • Label: Streamline
Lotus Crush
Year Album details
2011 Half Light Morning
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Fontana
Owin' Soul
Year Album details
2012 Warm August Day
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Private
2012 Higher Place
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Private
2012 Garden Stone
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Private
Year Album details
2011 To Agalma
  • Released 2011
  • Label: Private
2012 The Sin
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Johnny Bacolas Productions
Tiger Budbill
Year Album details
2012 Careless Whisper
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Private


  1. ^ a b "Johnny Bacolas Overview at Allmusic". Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  2. ^ Gargano, Paul. "Second Coming Maximum Ink". Maximum Ink. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  3. ^ Stav, Steve The Second Coming of Second Coming, "Intermittent Signals" September 1, 2001. Retrieved on June 8, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c David de Sola (April 5, 2012). "How Alice in Chains Found the Most Memorable Voice in Grunge". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
  5. ^ "Lotus Crush at Reverbnation". Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  6. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music." p. 214. April 2009.
  7. ^ Childers, Chad (21 August 2015). "25 Years Ago: Alice in Chains Unleash Their Debut Album 'Facelift'". Loudwire. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  8. ^ Prato, Greg (April 2009). Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music. pp. 215–216.
  9. ^ Prato, Greg. "Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music." p. 406. April 2009.

External links[edit]