“Music will always be my first love,” Johnny Depp revealed in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. “I pick up the guitar and space out and drool.” So it’s no surprise that the actor jumped at the opportunity to reunite with his old band the Kids this past weekend in Florida for a benefit concert honoring Sheila Witkin, a manager of local South Florida bands in the Seventies and Eighties and the mother of Bruce Witkin, Depp’s childhood friend and bandmate.
Depp joined the Kids when he was a 17-year-old high school student in Miramar, Florida, and achieved some success with the group — opening for Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, the Pretenders and the Ramones — before putting his musical career on hold to become an actor. He took the stage at Club Cinema in Pompano Beach in torn jeans and blue plaid shirt knotted around his waist while he played guitar for adoring onlookers including family members Vanessa Paradis and daughter Lily-Rose. This is the second annual memorial concert for Wiktin, who died in 2006.
Though he took time to hug each musician onstage and reach out into the audience to touch the hands of his many fans, Depp never spoke to the crowd directly. During the band’s cover of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Depp contributed backup vocals on a mike he shared with Bruce Witkin, while the two jokingly pointed at each other and exchanged meaningful pats on the shoulder. Later, Depp, Witkin and the band’s other guitarist, Joey Malone, pulled out some classic rock moves by fanning out in a group formation while they played through the Kids’ catalog.
The evening ended as the Kids gathered the other bands on the benefit bill onstage for a sing-along rendition of Them’s “Gloria,” substituting the spelling of the iconic chorus with S-H-E-I-L-A. “That’s what I like about him,” one concertgoer commented. “He’s a real guy. He minimizes his presence so the focus can be on the band. And,” he added, “no doubt the man can burn it.”