Backstage in South Florida: Joe Johnson of Majic 102.7 Shares His Golden Greats

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Majic 102.7 morning DJ and Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson shares his listening pile. 

The Beatles broke up more than 40 years ago; it's been 30 years since John Lennon was gunned down and nearly a decade since George Harrison passed away as well. But to Joe Johnson, producer and host of the nationally syndicated Beatle Brunch since 1992, the Fab Foursome is as alive as ever.

Born in Brooklyn but raised in South Florida, Johnson boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of all things pertaining to John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Even those who think they've heard it all when it comes to those lovable lads from Liverpool can learn a thing or two from his weekly broadcasts.

The program, which airs Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. on Majic 102.7, features obscure recordings, current and archival interviews, chat, trivia,

and the latest news regarding Beatles reissues and the comings and goings

of the surviving band members and their inner circle. If, in fact, all

you need is love, Joe's devotion to the Beatles' legacy speaks volumes

about his affection as well as his obsession.

Aside from his Beatles pursuits and some occasional standup comedy, Johnson's full-time gig finds him keeping early hours behind the microphone five days a week from 5:30 to 10 a.m. That's when he spins tunes and cohosts the same station's Majic in the Morning show with his radio wife, Donna Davis.

They're the perfect pair, Johnson's sly wit and knack for innuendo tempered by Davis' knowing asides and affable, easygoing attitude. And since Johnson works at an oldies station, after all -- since 1986, in fact -- we figured we could persuade him to give us a few of his musical favorites from his especially knowledgeable point of view. Maybe we'd even persuade him to include a few artists other than the Beatles. And we did too... well, almost anyway.

Paul McCartney, McCartney
"The newly remastered first album from Paul has some interesting bonus tracks on it and boasts a DVD that tells its story via interviews with Paul himself. The DVD also boasts some live appearances from his MTV Unplugged special, the all-star 'Concert for Kampuchea,' and other classic appearances... I find it a nice, clean-sounding return to 1970 and one of the best and most honest albums ever." 

Tom Petty, Wildflowers
"I never get tired of this CD, especially the title track and 'Time to Move On.' It's one of Petty's best. I even have the songs loaded into the hard drive in my car, which is pretty cool." 

Bruno Mars, Doo Wops and Hooligans
"I find this a fun album as far as new music goes. I might be a little late to the dance, but I like his optimistic outlook in songs like 'Just the Way You Are' and 'The Lazy Song.' Mars has a classic Michael Jackson sound with great production values. And it's all the more easy to get familiar with it because two of the songs have familiar titles, 'Just the Way You Are' and 'Count on Me' (by Billy Joel and Jefferson Starship, respectively)." 

The Beatles, Abbey Road
"This is my favorite album of all time. I still love the medley on side two, even though those were little bits of unfinished songs that were spliced together. The album is so varied and with so many distinct elements -- heavy rock: ('I Want You (She's So Heavy)'), acoustic ('Here Comes the Sun'), vocals ('Oh! Darling'). And there's even a song from Ringo ('Octopus' Garden'). 

Majic 102.7' and Majic's HD2 channel

"In addition to Majic, our HD2 channel contains more of the historic Majic playlist from years past, featuring such classic rockers as Dion, Elvis, Rick Nelson, and so forth. Fortunately, my car has an HD radio, and that makes a big difference." 

"Also, I download some shows from NPR on my I-Pod, and I listen to them a lot. I enjoy Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, which is very well-written and put together. They also have a lot of 'how to' shows and historical interview programs that I enjoy. My car came with Sirius/XM, so I mostly listen to the news channels and sports while driving in to work. I also like their channel called 'The Bridge,' which reminds me of my first radio job at radio station Love 94 from 1978-86."

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Lee Zimmerman