Bayard Johnson – US veteran, master mariner, social change activist, singer/songwriter, tv series/Hollywood movie script writer and producer, short story writer, philosopher, and American Indian Movement (AIM) supporter – died suddenly after fighting cancer over a five year period. His achievements in these fields are documented across the internet. Of note were his production of feature films for 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Disney, Warner Brothers, and MGM/UA; his numerous novels and other written works; and his artistic and journalistic collaborations with luminaries such as Dr. Timothy Leary and AIM leader Russell Means.
I only knew Bayard over these last few years as I am a regular at the UnUrban Coffee House in Santa Monica where his band, Mother Nature’s Army, regularly performed. They soon become one of my favorite musical acts in Los Angeles due to Bayard’s exceptional songwriting. Bayard Johnson and Mother Nature’s Army are two of the reasons why the UnUrban Coffee House is such a special place.
Bayard used sarcasm and disdain unabatedly in his folk-styled music that often transgressed lines drawn by political correctness. His story telling capabilities were reflected equally well in his song lyrics. At times it seemed entire novels were reflected in a single one of his songs, as they were so detailed and engrossing. His capacity to tell the truth in dramatic, revelatory fashion unveiled our society’s undisclosed dark side so abruptly that even the jaded could not help but be jolted awake.
The fact that so few people ever came to the UnUrban to experience Bayard’s brilliance was always a mystery to me. Here was a composer and performer as adept as a young Bob Dylan, Glenn Scott-Heron, Steve Ignorant or Tom Robinson, and there was not a line around the block cramming into the coffee house to hear him.
Bayard did have his admirers to be sure, but they seemed to be drawn around him as a close circle of his own friends and collaborators rather than as fawning devotees. Bayard both entertained and enlightened all of us. I was in awe of him, and I will not soon forget him. All My Relations.
Greg Foisie – CSULA graduate student and peace activist