The year was 1981 in Reno, Nevada. Mike Grover (PUSHBOX, VALENTINE RODEO, VERTICAL SMILE) was playing bass in a garage band called CATASTROPHE with Tim MacDonald (CRYSTAL AXE, CYANATE, AFTER DARK, PSYCHOBABBLE, WRATHBANE, DARQUE CARNIVAL) on guitar and Robbie Wolderidge (ROCK BOULEVARD) on drums. The band played a few live shows and had plenty of fun for a few years. In 1984, after CATASTROPHE broke up, Mike formed a new band called IRAWNIK with Jeff Montgomery on guitar joined by a few other high school friends. After recruiting Mike’s brother, Marc Grover (VICEZ, AXENT, ROCK BOULEVARD, CRASH STREET, I4NI, NEVERSAY), on vocals (he had just left his band VICEZ), the band changed their name from IRAWNIK to RAWKON. The band also picked up Sean Drew (VICEZ) on rhythm guitar. Sean was only in the band for a short time before Marc took over his guitar duties while continuing to front the band. RAWKON also found a solid drummer in Guy “Twin Cannon” Johnson (LETITIA RAE) who joined the band after being referred by Rob Grover, Mike’s and Marc’s brother. In 1985, Jeff was replaced by Harry “Hairlong” Crook (SLANG WARFARE) on guitar. RAWKON hired manager Dave Hoefer and in August of 1986, they pulled $2,500 together to record a 3-track demo cassette at Starsound Audio recording studio (they spent over $10,000 on recording and promoting over the band’s career).
RAWKON started receiving radio play on 96 Rock KRZQ and began to set themselves apart from other local hard rock acts. After the loss of three close friends to drug and alcohol related deaths, RAWKON took a stand against drinking and driving and substance use. A privately sponsored organization called “Safe Ride” promoted anti-drinking and driving and targeted Reno’s youth by organizing a hard rock and heavy metal tour of local high schools. RAWKON headlined the tour and played a show at The Grand Ballroom for their finale. Marc was quoted in a local newspaper stating, “We have a stance on pro-intelligence – everybody’s got the choice to kill themselves with drugs, but we choose not to.”
In 1987, RAWKON picked up Pete Amato on keyboards and entered the studio again and recorded their six-track self-titled cassette at Axe Tracks recording studio. During the recording process, the band brought in two friends (Jack Becker and Gary Williams) with their motorcycles to record the intro for “Street Eagles.” The album was recorded in June 1987 and produced by Doug Vaughn and RAWKON. Shortly after releasing their six-track cassette, a local record store reported to the Reno-Gazette Journal that “RAWKON’s cassette sold like wildfire when it first came out and that they were the most successful local band ever.” On August 31, 1987, RAWKON opened for WAYSTED at The Grand Ballroom and a few weeks later, in October 1987, RAWKON shared the stage with RAZORMAID as co-openers for Y&T at Lawlor’s Event Center – a 10,000 seat arena, the largest concert venue in Reno. RAWKON also opened for HELIX at The Grand Ballroom. During this same time period they played with many local acts such as ROCK BOULEVARD, and CRYSTAL AXE. RAWKON loved playing live and interacting with the fans. RAWKON would usually work into their sets a segment where each band member would trade positions with another band member and they would play through a song or two, showing off how multi-talented the band really was. This would usually put Guy on vocals as his charismatic demeanor played to the entertainment hungry crowd.
RAWKON entered the studio for a third time to record the Johnny’s Eyes EP. The four-track cassette included two versions of “Johny’s Eyes” and two versions of “Time’s Changin.’” It was recorded at Granny’s House Studio in 1987 and mixed and engineered by Don Evans and Bjorn Thorsrud. The cassette was released on Shred N Dakind Music in 1988. The lyrics to “Johnny’s Eyes” was inspired by the death of Marc’s friend who had committed suicide. A portion of the profits for Johnny’s Eyes went to a suicide prevention center in Reno. Johny’s Eyes was also used by suicide prevention centers in San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and Washington D.C. to help save lives.
On June 9, 1988, RAWKON opened for FATES WARNING at Lawlor’s Event Center. Shortly thereafter, RAWKON hit the road, touring all over the midwestern United States. Harry was unable to go on tour with the band and was replaced by Jeff Montgomery. During the tour, RAWKON’s bus continually broke down. Due to the unanticipated cost of repairs, the band allegedly had to siphon gas and dine and dash to keep themselves on the tour. Part-way through the tour, Jeff Montgomery had to return home and RAWKON brought Harry Crook back on lead guitar duties. The tour’s final hurdle came when Guy was recruited by LETITIA RAE (Solo project from former SLAVE RAIDER bassist) to finish their tour, leaving RAWKON without a drummer. After Guy joined LETITIA RAE, RAWKON returned home exhausted from touring and without their talented drummer.
RAWKON decided to go their separate ways with Marc Grover joining ROCK BOULEVARD. Harry Crook would later go on to join Deland Voth (ROCK BOULEVARD) and Jamie Lee (RAZORMAID) in SLANG WARFARE. Michael Grover went on to join PUSHBOX, VALENTINE RODEO, and VERTICAL SMILE. Pete Amato would go on to have a successful career in the music industry working with many national and international acts. Sadly, Guy passed away, leaving only his legacy behind. This album is dedicated to the memory of Guy “Twin Cannon” Johnson, who will always be missed, but never forgotten.