MEET THE BAND
Lead Vocals, Lead and Slide Guitar, Songwriter
Johnny O'Neil began playing lead guitar in Twin Cities nightclubs at the tender age of 14. Johnny, along with Brian Bart, is one of the two founding members and lead guitarists of Dare Force. He also has played in Twin Cities bands such as Crossroader, White Raven and Archangel, and was replaced by the world-renowned keyboardist, Yanni, after he left Archangel to form Dare Force.
Dare Force was a legendary hard rock/heavy metal band that was initially formed in Minneapolis in the late 1970s. Dare Force released three albums in the 1980s and performed in concert with numerous national acts such as KISS, Ted Nugent, Triumph, Kansas, UFO, the Joe Perry Project, and Ratt, as well as headlining in venues throughout the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Dare Force also had several songs that received heavy airplay on rock radio stations throughout the midwestern US in the 1980s. Dare Force released its third CD, "Firepower," with a reformed version of the band in 1989. The original lineup performed occasional reunion gigs after the long run of the original band ended in 1987, but the original version of Dare Force stopped performing live altogether after their last reunion show in 2002. Dare Force reformed yet again with a return to a four-piece lineup in 2017, and released its fourth CD, “Callin’ Your Name,” in 2018. However, as in all things in life, people, relationships, events, and bands must pass. So, too, it was with the latest lineup of Dare Force…
But as every door closes, another one opens! Johnny is now a solo artist, and his debut solo album, "Truth or Dare” features nine songs, including never-before recorded songs Johnny wrote and performed with Dare Force years ago, brand new tunes written by him, as well as an acoustic tune Johnny wrote when he was 16 years old. The album also features a remake of The Beatles’ classic, “Revolution”! In addition to writing all but one of the nine tunes, Johnny sings all lead and harmony vocals and plays all guitars (lead, slide, acoustic, and bass) on the album. However, Johnny also enlisted a "secret weapon" to play drums on the album, percussion powerhouse Joachim Baecker. Johnny has also put together a band for live shows as a solo artist featuring Joachim on drums and percussion, John Funk on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Benny Craig on bass guitar and backing vocals!
In the mid-1980s, after spending several years touring the Midwest with various cover bands, percussion powerhouse Joachim Baecker joined forces with Minneapolis glam metal masters Obsession, just as they were morphing into a more straight-ahead, 100% original rock ‘n roll outfit called Funhouse.
Funhouse, backed by nationally regarded Manager Herbert Gart, gave the band much needed national exposure and allowed Baecker to be one of the first drummers to record at Paisley Park (under Producer Mick Ronson), as well as tour the coasts with record showcase gigs. As a result, band members relocated to New York City, the group changed its name to Rattling Bones, and a management change now saw them under the guidance of David Krebs (Aerosmith) and Bill Aucoin (KISS).
New York was certainly a game-changer for Baecker, as the band was now writing and recording grittier material with studio legends such as Rob Stevens and Jack Douglas. After several years of recording, but not landing a suitable record deal, the band dissolved and the members went on to recording projects with other musicians, and eventually returned to the Twin Cities area.
After a short time, Baecker was back on the Twin Cities scene as a fill-in drummer for numerous Twin Cities bands, including a 2-year stint with Power of Ten, a highly popular 10-piece horn band, and various recording projects.
In 2019, Baecker teamed up with other Twin Cities music veterans to create Minnesota Music Machine, a tribute band to well-known Minnesota musical acts including Prince, and Dare Force. It was during one of their live sets that Minnesota guitar legend Johnny O’Neil joined them for a cover of Pushin’ Your Luck—a Dare Force fan favorite. With this experience, Baecker was introduced to Johnny, and shortly thereafter was invited by O’Neil to play drums and percussion on his debut solo album, “Truth or Dare,” and join his live band!
Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
John Funk received his first guitar at the age of 14. It was a classical, nylon string guitar that his father won in a poker game. At 15 he talked his mother into buying him his first electric guitar, the first of many black Gibson Flying Vs John has played throughout his musical career. As a beginning guitarist, John’s influences included Randy Rhodes, Michael Schenker, John Sykes, and Gary Moore, to name but a few.
John joined his first band at 15, and by 17 was playing exclusively in all-original bands. John cut his teeth playing rhythm guitar for Twin Cities guitar phenom Brett Petrusek. At 21 John began touring with the Minneapolis hard rock band Sinister Grin, a band he started with the highly touted lead singer Ben Zerr, formerly of Black Eden. John then went on to rejoin forces with Brett Petrusek in the Minneapolis rock powerhouse 57 Stitch, who were signed to Oarfin Records and recorded with the legendary Minneapolis producer, Tom Herbers.
After 57 Stitch John fronted a series of Twin Cities original hard rock bands, honing his lead vocals skills, guitar chops, and songwriting in Fast Back, Full Stack, Monster Zero, and The 221’s. John also recorded an album with each of these bands. In 2013, John joined the ranks of Minneapolis punk ‘n’ roll veterans, the GooDBarS, who released the album “More Than Nothing” in 2016.
John began his latest rock ‘n’ roll adventure after he was invited to join Johnny O’Neil’s band as Johnny’s partner in six-string crime, and backing vocalist!
Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Twin Cities veteran bass guitarist Benny Craig founded the hard rock band Paradox in 1980 with guitarist John Eller, and the late, great drummer Tommy Alisides. Paradox released one album, “Reel Life,” played countless packed shows in the Twin Cities, and toured the Midwest and cities beyond from Denver to Houston before disbanding in 1988. Benny then played bass with Boneclub, who won the Minnesota Music Award (MMA) in 1994 for best hard rock record, “Bellow,” produced by the legendary Mike Clink (who also engineered Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction”). Boneclub released three albums altogether, two of which were on Imago Records (label mates included Henry Rollins, and Aimee Mann). Benny toured Europe, Canada and the US with Boneclub throughout the ‘90s, sharing the stage with then-upcoming bands Green Day and Everclear, as well as opening for veteran rockers Social Distortion, The Flaming Lips, The Melvins, and Screaming Trees. A songwriter in his own right, one of Benny’s songs, “Everything’s on Fire,” also made it to film as the anthem for the “on ice bully” character in the 1994 Disney classic, Mighty Ducks 2.
Benny eventually settled in Minneapolis and for most of the 21st Century has slapped the upright bass in his own band, Stockcar Named Desire, releasing one album, winning MMAs for best rockabilly band 2005 and 2006, as well as performing shows with dozens of leading acts in the national rockabilly scene, including Hank Williams III, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
Now, as the bass guitarist and backing vocalist for one of his favorite long-time rock influences, Johnny O’Neil, Benny is most excited to return to his hard rock roots!