Keith & Keith Funeral Home
A very young 81 year old musician/truck driver passed away February 5th, 2020 at Cottage in the Meadow, with his wife and sister-in-law Leone Leonard, by his side. Born the second of three sons to Horace Coy and Ethlyn Virginia (Lawson) Hensley in Walla Walla, WA on November 18th, 1938.
He graduated with the class of ‘57 from Grandview High School, where he was an outstanding athlete.
In the spring of 1958, after finishing a year of college in Ellensburg, where he was the sousa player in the Air Force ROTC marching band, Johnny became the guitarist for the Checkers, the first east side rock and roll band to break through the Cascade curtain and gain a following in the Seattle Tacoma area. This opened up numerous playing options for him, not only in the Seattle Tacoma area, but Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Reno, etc.… playing venues across the US and Canada when he toured with Buddy Knox. Throughout the years, he played with Gene Vincent, Jimmy Clanton, Paul Anka, Bobby Vinton, The Allman Brothers, the Fleetwoods, the Righteous Brothers, Fabian, Jimmy Smith, B12 Organist, Dion, etc… Opportunities for studio work opened up. He worked for several studios, including Bonnie Guitar. He perfected a chinking style strum, which put him in high demand.
1970 to 1976 was spent on the road with Honeybrook, where he met his future wife. After terminating with Honeybrook, he opted for a quieter life “off the road.” He loved the music but hated the typical musician lifestyle.
In 1982, he got his CDL and trucked both local and long haul. He worked for several trucking companies around the state… a different type of being “on the road.”
In 1994, Johnny found his “perfect match” at Strother Trucking, a union which lasted until Kelly (whom Johnny always regarded as a great friend as well as a great boss) retired Nov. 2016.
In 1984, Johnny was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Keith Haynes, drummer for Donny and Marie and the Osmond family.
On December 6th, 2010, he married former band mate and music enthusiast Lavonne (Bunny) Greek of Sunnyside.
Johnny was preceded in death by his parents Horace and Ethlyn Hensley, brother Gerald Horace (Jerry) Hensley; daughter Tara Hensley Almuti; and grandson Steven Dwight Frost. He is survived by his wife Lavonne and her 7 children; brother Darrell (Louise) Hensley of Selah; son Johnny Steven Delzell and spouse Linda High of Ilwaco, and other extended family.
Johnny was truly one of a kind! A unique person, who often had impractical, but highly entertaining, amusing, endearing and, let’s face it, sometimes embarrassing notions!
If your music bored him or stifled his creative flow, no matter how well-known or famous the performer, Johnny wouldn’t work with them.
Best of Hensley:
“There are no bad notes – there are just notes that sound better.”
“Yeah, wear that. I will guarantee not one woman there will feel jealous of you. That makes them feel good.”
“Pay attention to the traffic. Oh yeah, that’s right. You aren’t my driver… you think you’re my tour guide.”
“You look like a cavewoman who has never seen scissors.”
“We’re lowering that key down. The truth is, Lavonne, no one really likes the sound of a soprano voice.”
“Woo-Hoo! I got me a little jazz singer here!”
Never a dull moment and I adored him!
Private graveside service will be held at Terrace Heights Memorial Park. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.keithandkeith.com.