The news that one of our homegrown talents, guitar hero Johnny Maguire, is jumping back into the music business should warm the hearts of many on the local scene. After powering through the Amazing Royal Crowns (1995-’97), the Colonel and His Lucky Diamonds (1998-’02), and the Cobra-Matics (2003-’06), Maguire disappeared in a personal abyss, laying waste to promising opportunities in the process. The problems really surfaced after his beloved band the Cobra-Matics, blew up.
“After dealing with another band falling apart and the following weirdness, I started to re-examine my whole life and music career and all that baloney and dramatics that goes along with it,” Maguire wrote in an e-mail. Some of that "baloney” involved drinking. “Alcohol had always played a big, bad part in my music and my life in general going awry,” he admits. “It was the black cloud that was following me around since college [which I didn’t finish either]. I just couldn’t get the hell out of my own way half the time and always seemed to blame everybody else for my screw-ups, selfishness, broken relationships, and bad decisions.”
Once he got past the drinking, Maguire started to look at the big picture. “I wanted to see what was really going on, why things had and hadn’t happened, and I tried to figure out what really made me happy in life. I needed to get my train back on track.”
These days, Maguire, a competitive long distance runner, is just as likely to don running togs as cowboy boots. He finished 43rd out of 1387 in a recent half-marathon. “The running, sober life and the rock and roll life are two different wacky worlds,” he says. “When I’m getting up to go to a race, all my music friends are just getting home from being out partying. The way I look at it, you never know who you’re going to meet on the street when you can actually get up in the morning and get out there.”
Maguire is meeting new people at the races and handing them his latest CD, the Cobra-Matics’ Under the Hood, which has been many years in the making; it was aborted in ’06 after the band fell apart. It’s an amazing return to form, the sound of a guy who has his mojo back. Produced by Johnny, Tom Hiller, and Duke Robillard, it boasts all the twangy guitar fireworks you’d expect from the Colonel and then some. To help him hoot and holler, Maguire flanked himself with able-bodied Cobra-Matics: guitarist Dan White, bassist Bob MacDonald, and drummer Jeremy Kroger.
Maguire also managed to avoid financial ruin. A former vintage guitar and gear junkie, the Colonel’s acquisitionsn kept him in the red and unable to remain liquid enough to finance the band. So he sold his arsenal to repay his debts, and is now starting from a cleaner financial slate. The proceeds also helped him to get Under the Hood revived and into the marketplace. “Things in general just became so much better and not such an uphill battle all the time,” he says.