In this exclusive for Australian Music Week on Saturday, 10 November 2018 in Cronulla, Studios 301 & AMW present a live session with Diesel and Hawksley Workman recorded live by our Studios 301 team. Tickets are $65.30 and are available from: https://australianmusicweek.oztix.com.au/
While still in his teens, American born guitarist/singer Mark Lizotte was snatched from his bar band in Perth and launched on to the Australian charts as the leader of Johnny Diesel and the Injectors. A career was born and now some 30 years later Diesel is still rocking Saturday nights around the nation. Johnny Diesel and the Injectors moved from Perth to establish themselves in Sydney in 1987. They quickly became known for Diesel’s extraordinary versatility on the guitar and his rich, soulful voice. The debut album shipped platinum and entered the charts at #2. It was the biggest-selling album of 1989. ‘Hepfidelity’, Diesel’s first album under his own name in 1992 was a mega-platinum smash and earned him ARIAs for Best Album and Best Male Talent. He is one of only a select few Artists to win a Best Male Talent ARIA three times (along with John Farnham, Alex Lloyd and Gotye). The next albums – ‘The Lobbyist’ and ‘Solid State Rhyme’ confirmed his status as one of Australia’s most significant recording artists. A non-stop six years that included extensive touring, recording and starting a family was capped in 1996 with the ‘Short Cool Ones’ project that he cut with blues harp player Chris Wilson.
“We made a run for it,” he says with a laugh. Diesel and his young family relocated to New York where he started from scratch. “I just needed to wipe the slate clean. I didn’t want to be around familiar things. I went to New York with nothing, I didn’t even have one song.” Diesel scored a residency at the prestigious club Arlene’s Grocery. He was discovered all over again, this time by Mammoth Records who teamed Diesel with legendary producers Jerry Harrison and Gavin Mackillop for the ‘Lost Soul Companion’ album. In 2002, Diesel and family moved back to Australia. He assembled a band and also began gigging as a solo artist. The nakedness of performing with nothing more than an acoustic guitar helped him to re-examine his own work and take a fresh perspective. The 2005 album ‘Singled Out’ put Diesel back on the radio and gave him a hankering to pump up the volume again. It also marked a new phase in Diesel’s career, and time for a new album. 2006’s ‘Coathanger Antennae’ was recorded in two months with Diesel backed by bassist Richie Vez and drummer Lee Moloney. “I want to make records where I can play with other people and just have fun” says Diesel.
Back in Australia, and back on a roll, the albums and the tours kept coming – original albums adorned with radio hits followed with ‘Days Like These’ in 2008 and ‘Let It Fly’ in 2013 interspersed with his now signature original and masterful renditions of rock, soul and blues classics via the themed albums ‘Saturday Suffering Fools’ in 2009, ‘Under The Influence’ in 2011, and the triumphant ‘Americana’ album in 2016. Diesel is one of those rare talents who has immense popular appeal and is also a musician’s musician. His guitar playing is always tasteful and inventive. It’s based around the rock and soul that he heard growing up as the son of a saxophonist.
However steeped in the classics he may be, Diesel is not afraid to experiment either. “I always wanted to be an electric guitar player, I always wanted to be in front of an amp,” he says. “I enjoy the economy of the solo acoustic work as it gives you a really good sense of reality, but I can’t wait to light up Saturday nights right across Australia on this very special 30th Anniversary Tour”.
In celebration of the new album, Diesel and his band will be heading out on the Give Me Saturday Night national tour in 2018 to perform a ‘best of’ collection of tracks from the upcoming album, ‘Diesel 30 The Greatest Hits’ due for release in May.