Artist Biography by Mark Deming
While Johnny Depp has developed a massive international fan following as an actor (especially since the release of the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl), he's also been a musician and a passionate music fan most of his life, and one of his best-known musical projects was the band P. Depp began playing guitar when he was 12, after his mother gave him a second-hand acoustic instrument as a present; he taught himself to play using a Mel Bay chord book, and by his late teens he was gigging with a number of band in his native Florida and dropped out of high school to devote his time to his music. Depp's most successful group during his days in the Sunshine State was the Kids, a hard-edged new wave band who developed a significant local following an opened for a number of national touring acts, most notably Iggy Pop, who would work with Depp again years later, both as an actor and as composer of the score for Depp's directorial debut, The Brave. After recording a four-song demo, the Kids changed their name to Six Gun Method and moved to California in hopes of landing a record deal. Their big break didn't come and Depp quit the group, though bassist Bruce Witkin went on to play with Adam Ant and currently fronts the group Supremium, while Depp met Lori Anne Allison, a makeup artist who would become his first wife, through Six Gun Method's drummer. Depp then joined the hard rock band Rock City Angels, though in 1984, on the advice of Nicholas Cage, a friend of Allison's, he landed a role in the film A Nightmare on Elm Street and left the band to pursue acting full-time, though a song he co-wrote for the group, "Mary," appeared on their debut album, released by Geffen in 1989. In 1993, while Depp was in Texas shooting the film What's Eating Gilbert Grape, he and Sal Jenco, a close friend and fellow musician turned actor, struck up a friendship with two Lone Star rockers, guitarist and songwriter Bill Carter and Gibby Haynes, infamous lead vocalist with psychedelic punk firebrands the Butthole Surfers. The four decided to form a band, and P was born, with Depp and Carter trading off on guitar and bass, Jenco playing drums, and Haynes handling the vocals. The band made their debut at the 1993 South by Southwest Music Festival and became the informal house band at the Viper Room, the Los Angeles rock club co-owned by Depp. In 1995, Capitol Records, then home to the Butthole Surfers, released P's self-titled debut album, which featured guest spots from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, and pianist and L.A. scene fixture Chuck E. Weiss. A song from the P album, "Michael Stipe," gained some alternative rock airplay, and sales were respectable if modest considering the fame of the participants. The group proved to be short-lived, as Depp and Jenco returned to acting, Haynes continued touring and recording with the Butthole Surfers, and Carter released solo albums and collaborated with Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. However, Depp still plays guitar in his spare time, popping up on some Oasis sessions, guesting with his long-time paramour Vanessa Paradis, appearing on the first album by Shane MacGowan & the Popes, and playing a reunion show with the Kids in early 2007 at a memorial concert for Shelia Witkin, the group's manager and a longtime fixture on Miami's underground rock scene. Depp has also told interviewers he remains friendly with his P bandmates and wouldn't rule out recording a second album with them.