Jonni Maxx The Real Story

Jonni Maxx was the brain child of John Pape AKA ‘John Jonathan Jonni’ and Steve Spalsbury AKA ‘Steven Maxx’. The band formed in 1981 in an old warehouse in the San Diego area.

It been nearly 25 years since we performed. But one day we were talking and I started to look for old tapes. All I could find were old dusty cassette tapes. (Anyone remember those?)

In the eighties there was a tremendous revolution in the music world. Punk, Metal, New Wave. It was all fresh and raw. It was the genesis of the Indie movement.

In January 2007, a resurrection of sorts unfolds at a solemn occasion in El Cajon, Ca. John Pape and Steven Spalsbury made the decision to reform the Jonni Maxx band and return to the days of rock and roll fun. John and Steven would awaken the band from its twenty five year slumber with more experience and insight to bring the music to a new generation of fans.

The search began to reignite the passion of music by enlisting other musicians with the same desires. First answering the call was Izzy Moose, a novice talent with a desire to make Jonni Maxx a driving force of the new millennium. Next into the fold Phil Carpenter a drummer with raw talent and a vision of great dreams on the horizon.

So the nucleus was formed of the new Jonni Maxx Band. With a mix of the old favorites and a blend of new thought provoking songs, Jonni Maxx returns to the fans who loved them when and whose who want to experience rebirth. Ladies and gentlemen brace yourselves for a trip back in time and a vision of the future in rock and roll entertainment. Be prepared to fall in love with The Jonni Maxx band again or for the first time.

In November 1980 a band was born in a warehouse in El Cajon, California. The brain child of a shy introspective intellectual and a hyperactive rebel with fast dreams. Both with a creative desire to write and make music. John Pape and Steven Spalsbury wrote their first song Moon Shiner on a cold rainy night and so began the saga of the band Jonni Maxx. The mesh of these two personalities would establish a life long collaboration and friendship that continues today.

Within a couple of weeks John and Steven had written five songs, four which the band would perform through their glory days. After the first of the year 1981 the search began to form a band. First to audition was Mike R. a bass player from El Cajon. Mike was a Beatles fanatic and very boisterous. Next into the fold was the drummer Richard B. an inferior personality looking for potato chips and acceptance. So grew the embryo of an emerging monster the original band known as Fire Squad. Fire Squad would develop into a band of different sounds that never quite gelled. The band would play many parties and wedding receptions, but could not break the limitations of its rhythm section. Following the back to school concert in September 1981, the last hurrah for a fading dream, the band split. In fighting and difference of opinions caused Mike to leave and Richard to be set free. Though the band split, John and Steve had amassed a collection of songs they had written and decided to move on and form a new band.

Due to the overwhelming crush of female admirers of the band, John and Steven decided to assume stage names and build the new band around their new personas. To keep their private lives separate from their stage presences, John Pape became John Jonathan Jonni and Steven Spalsbury became Steven Maxx. This was the beginning of The Jonni Maxx Band. This worked to keep a line between business and pleasure and to keep the female groupies and stalkers at bay.

The time had come to form a new and improved product. To raise the bar above what the fans were used to. Entered bassist Steve Palmer, a fun loving youngster with new ideas and raw talent. Steve would mold into a musician that fit with the music John and Steven had written. Jeff from Detroit became the new drummer, though a good talent, Jeff never embodied the spirit of the band and soon parted ways. Jon Knight came to the band as a prayer in the night. Quiet and unassuming, Jon was talented and meshed with the different yet committed personalities of each member of the band.

With a new spirit and fresh sound, the band began to flourish. Jonni Maxx had matured from the party band Fire Squad and took their New California sound to venues throughout San Diego. Though they occasionally played weddings and party’s, their element was the emerging night club scene. Earning gigs at local hot spots like the Spirit Club and Downtown’s Zebra Club. The band frequently headlined at the International Blend. The blend was a famous 80’s coffee house that catered to the Indie bands of the era. The Blend was a place where the followers of the band could relax and enjoy the music without the crush of bodies that occasion night clubs. John and Steven formed the production company Camel Toe Presents to handle the constant demand for Jonni Maxx. Jonni Maxx could be frequently seen doing gigs with an established east county band The Big. These double bills were frequently anticipated for their high energy and fun for all shows. The Jonni Maxx Band stayed together until early 1983.

A band is somewhat like a marriage, you work and play together and sometimes grow apart. Members of the band began to explore different interest in music which began to strain the relationship of its members. Romances with different females that had infiltrated the band and clouded the focus of the members took its toll. Steve Palmer left to pursue a different style of music and devote his time to a personal relationship. Jon also left to pursue other music interest. John and Steven had come to a crossroads. Should the band continue or should they let it rest. The time was right and the memories good. Jonni Maxx would be no more. Even though an attempt to start a new band The New Century Wildcats never got off the ground, Jonni Maxx still lives with in the hearts and memories of its fans and followers. Though the band is no more, their sound still echoes through time. Until the time Jonni Maxx like the Phoenix rises again.