John Day

August 19 1986

Age 33, Houston, AIDS

Blog Entry on John Day, with Sound Files

John Day Bio

by Nancy Ford

John Day, a prolific pianist, vocalist, composer, and arranger, was the genius behind
John Day and Company, a trio-sometimes-quartet that performed largely in Houston’s
gay bars and cabarets, beginning in 1981. And the gays loved him and his talent.

John was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in the early 1950s, and the harmonies he and
his sister Doris learned to weave at church were easily transferable to arrangements
of pop tunes and standards in a Manhattan Transfer-flavored treatment when they
migrated to Texas when both siblings were in their twenties.

John’s cousin Joseph was part of JD+C's original trio, with John and Doris. Vocalist
Dana Rogers joined the group in 1983 when Doris lost interest. Rogers, a soaring
soprano and brilliant musician whose learned her trade in Las Vegas at the feet of
her father and renowned Rat Pack arranger and conductor, Bill Rogers. Dana joined
the group at just 18 years of age. Jerry Quinones sometimes sat in with JD+C, a fiery
little Latino whose specialty number was “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home”
peppered with impressions of Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, and others whom few
in the LGBT club demo would recognize now. When John didn’t accompany on piano,
Richard Askin, who did.

With and without his beloved Company, John Day performed at countless venues in
Houston including EJ’s, Studio 13, The Copa, Baja Sam’s, Upstairs/Downstairs, Cody's,
Rascal’s, Kindred Spirits, and many other venues that didn't shy away from John's
openly gay presentation—still a rarity at that time, even among entertainers, when
AIDS was considered a gay disease.

John independently recorded “Unity Through Diversity” in 1983 & “Unity & More in 1984”
on 45 RPM records both as John Day & Company for Pride Committee of Houston’s June
Pride celebrations. He also wrote and indepedently recorded the single, “There Goes
The Neighborhood" in 1984.

John, Dana, Joseph, Jerry, and Richard joined together to lip-sync to “Unity Through
Diversity” at the Houston’s Summit Arena (now Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church) for
Pride Committee of Houston’s 1983 Gay & Lesbian Pride Festival; Tina Turner headlined
that festival. Dana Rogers also sang The Star Spangled Banner that night, ironically
dressed as the Statue of Liberty. [Editor's note: Nancy Ford, a breaking local lesbian
comic and vocalist (and Dana Rogers' girlfriend at the time) frequently opened for
JD+C also sang backup on that record, and joined JD+C on stage at the Summit that
night in 1983 for its performance.]

Definitely a product of the glitzy disco era, John never met a shirt, tuxedo jacket, or
pair of leather pants he couldn’t bedazzle. He left Houston in 1985 to return to Gospel
music for traveling evangelist circuit, completing the full circle that was his musical
career. An enthusiastic embracer of the “showbiz life style,” John loved his sex, drugs,
and rock-n-roll. He died in Florida in August 1986 from HIV/AIDS related pneumonia,
taking with him a remarkable talent.