Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chris Johnson of Useless Wooden Toys murdered at show in Bloomington

Chris Johnson, singer of Minneapolis punk bands Useless Wooden Toys and Loaded First, was stabbed to death after confronting Brian White, 32, who was harassing women at a house show in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday morning.

"Knock that off. We're not going to tolerate that," Johnson told White, according to media reports.

White was asked to leave by the homeowners after a brief fight, but instead ran into the front yard where he stabbed Johnson.

White was later taken into custody by police.

Friends have deluged the band's myspace page with eulogies and messages of support. Although I didn't know Chris Johnson, and don't usually traffic in thrash shows, it's a horrible tragedy when assholes start trouble at some house show. It happens though. Everywhere. And it's incredibly respectable that Chris Johnson stepped in and stood up for someone who was being harassed; many people wouldn't have.

ABC news titled their article, "Punk Rocker Killed After Defending Woman," putting a traditional chivalrous spin on it,and maybe it was that, but it seems a simpler answer would be that Johnson followed that same impulse you see all over in underground cultures: watch out for one another.

My condolences to his friends and family. Anyway, since I didn't know him, it's not my place to say much.

Here's an e-mail that Off With Their Heads sent out that puts his tragic death in perspective and calls for support for Michelle, his wife of one year:

I would like to see everyone in this town (and hopefully beyond) show some support for Chris’ wife Michelle. They recently just celebrated their first anniversary together. Since this system that we live in is so fucked up and stupid, she cant afford to give him the proper funeral that he deserves.

Everyone doing shows, every band doing shows, everyone who cant even begin to understand how terrible this is for her: Come up with a way to get her some money and help out. On very rare occaisions, OWTH sets up a donation jar at shows and we say a little something about it. Last time we did, we raised somewhere between $3-400 just off one show. We will be doing this tonight, and every night on our upcoming tour to do what little we can.

Even if you didn’t know Chris or dont know Michelle, take my word on it. These are the good ones. As we all know, the good ones are the ones who get fucked and/or never get the help they deserve.

Thats all. If you have any questions or are interested in helping out, get in touch.

myspace. com/offwiththeirheads
Please re-post this.

And please dont email Useless Wooden Toys or Michelle right now. I think they need their time.


  1. This is the most respectful and compassionate piece I've seen so far. Thanks for keepin it real and showing Chris the respect he deserves. Maybe some other websites will take a cue. From all of us that loved Chris, thank you.

  2. I served on the jury that convicted Brian White of Chris Johnson's murder. I hope that his wife Michelle will find peace in knowing that her husband's death has not gone un-noticed. May God protect her and her family and know that Chris is rocking it in heaven.

  3. michele riordan johnsonAugust 19, 2010 at 1:29 AM

    i never got to properly thank you guys- i'm still messed up- but am slowly rebuilding my life- with much thanks from the love and support that you guys created...
    i'll be out in mpls for the punk bowling tournament to sing with useless wooden toys in sept- it will be the first show ince chriss death and am honoroed that they want me to sing in his place- i hope to see you there- michele

  4. that's awful... It's been 4 years ago
    but is seems like a couple of months ago