Yokota airman keeps on rocking in the free world

Base Info
Staff Sgt. Charles Johnson, 374 Civil Engineering Squadron water and fuels system maintenance, plays the guitar during a show. “I wanted to play music that people could enjoy and dance to,” Johnson said. (Courtesy photo)
Staff Sgt. Charles Johnson, 374 Civil Engineering Squadron water and fuels system maintenance, plays the guitar during a show. “I wanted to play music that people could enjoy and dance to,” Johnson said. (Courtesy photo)

Yokota airman keeps on rocking in the free world

by: Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs | .
Yokota Air Base | .
published: January 19, 2014

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- There's a dark and crowded live house, full of local Japanese patrons enjoying live performances from local bands.

Through the smoky haze and dazzling lights, a bassist with distinct features, unique to the locals, stands tall and rocks the house with his rockabilly band.

His name is Charles "Chuck" Johnson, a staff sergeant with the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel system maintenance, and he lives his childhood dream of performing music that makes the crowd go wild.

"Whenever I play in front of the crowd, I get goose bumps," Johnson said. "It's like I can feel their energy rushing toward me."

Johnson's love for music began at the age of eight, when he first played the guitar. Since then, he's picked up the cello and violin, experimenting in multiple musical worlds. However, after watching the movie, Back to the Future, he realized what he really wanted to do with his musical talent.

"When Marty rocked his parent's school dance by playing 'Johnny B. Goode,' seeing the performance aspect of it inspired me to pick up my guitar again," Johnson said. "I wanted to play music that people could enjoy and dance to."

Through his high school days, Johnson attempted to form a rock band with his friends and musically talented students, but it was very difficult.

"I wanted to play music for a career, but other members were just not as committed or interested," Johnson said. "We didn't share the same long-term goal."

It was after joining the Air Force when he met other musicians in the military with the same passion for music.

"Every base I was stationed at I was able to join a band or two," Johnson said. "I met a lot of good musicians and was lucky enough to be friends with these guys and the advice I got from them was priceless--everyone has different experiences that you can learn from, and the Air Force has helped me gain those experiences."

One talented musician he met is Toshihiro Hayakawa, 374 CES water plant operator. They are band members, coworkers, and best friends.

"I think he (Johnson) truly loves and has fun with music," Hayakawa said. "He plays upright bass in the band, but he plays many other instruments and can also sing harmonics. There are not many musicians like him and my friends are always looking forward to our shows because they are intrigued by Johnson."

Every couple of nights, Johnson meets with his Japanese rockabilly band for practice and performs live shows in local live houses. Through the language of music, he says he wants to leave good impressions on his Japanese audience while providing them entertainment.

"(They) certainly view me differently, but the music is a universal language," Johnson said. "It can convey messages that words cannot. I want to show them that we are here as friends and we should get along, and the negativity should be washed away with music."

Tags: Yokota Air Base, Base Info
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