67°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

How musician went from Pittsburgh cop to Lady Gaga’s bassist

First time on the job, he saw someone die.

Jonny Goood was but 21 when he graduated from the Pittsburgh Police Academy.

When he hit the streets as a young officer, the streets hit right back, confronting him with death from day one.

“It put life into even more perspective for me,” the 30-year-old Goood says. “It popped my ego at a young age, made it less about me.”

It’s a lesson that’s been well applied to the often-humbling path of anyone aspiring to be a professional musician.

Nowadays, Goood tours the world as Lady Gaga’s bassist, after having played with the likes of The Weeknd, Iggy Azalea, Wiz Khalifa, Miley Cyrus, Joe Jonas and plenty of others.

He’s also immersed in a rising solo career.

This from a man only a few years removed from sleeping in his car as he struggled to establish a career in music upon leaving the force.

From cop to musician

It’s an unlikely success story, but in a way, all this seems Goood’s birthright.

His mother’s side of the family is loaded with talented musicians, chief among them his great uncle, Cornelius “Cornbread” Johnson, a founder of R&B Hall of Famers the Ohio Players, and his cousin and fellow bassist Debra Killings, who’s written and recorded with the likes of TLC, Monica and Outkast.

His father’s side consists of a long line of servicemen and police officers.

“I grew up knowing that I was going to be a cop,” Goood says from a tour stop in Austin, Texas. “My dad was a great role model. I always had to watch him shine his boots, put them on and go out to work. We had some close calls, but he always came home.”

Goood was always musically inclined, rapping as a teenager before picking up the bass at 19.

Though he graduated from the police academy at the top of his class and had a promising future as a criminal investigator, he decided to leave the family business and become a musician. But the lessons learned in the police academy have stayed with him.

“It gave me a drive, instilled in me motivation, dedication, determination, integrity — the things that it takes to actually hold on to a dream,” says Goood, a high-energy presence whose voice bounds from the phone like something being chased. “I had to stay in the academy for 26 weeks and be yelled at. I was living such a strict and guided life as a young man that it helped prepare for the freedom I have right now.

“To be a 23-year-old kid with so much power, that really put a lot in perspective,” he adds. “As an artist, you can be given a lot of power, and I know I won’t abuse it. I think that happens a lot.”

Hard times, harder truths

He now tours the world playing with one of pop’s biggest power players, Lady Gaga, spending his downtime leading his own band, The Triple O’s.

It’s arenas one night, dive bars the next.

On his own, Goood favors a sound he calls “bass-hop,” rapping and playing at once. Plenty of hip-hop acts tour with a live backing band, but few actually record with one. But in Goood’s case, hitting the studio with his bandmates from Lady Gaga’s crew has resulted in a far more visceral, funky backdrop to his sharp-voiced rhymes.

“Playing bass actually helped me rhythmically,” he explains. It’s a rhythm instrument, so when you combine a rhythm instrument with being a rhythm performer, using your voice, the opportunities are endless.”

Of course, hip-hop has long had a combative relationship with the police, the music frequently used as a vehicle for calling attention to and targeting abuse.

On his latest single, “Sirens,” Goood puts his past in perspective.

“They ask why I did it, runnin’ with the law /Bro, have you ever seen a kid lose a mom? / Caught a bullet in the ribs same day as prom … / Y’all saying (expletive) a pig, but we need the law.”

It’s been this way for Goood for much of his life, hard times begetting harder truths.

“My motto is to embrace the ‘suck’ in life,” he says, reflecting on what it took for him to get to this point in his career. “If you can make it through the sucky part of sleeping in your car, eating ramen, never making a dollar for your gig, stuff like that, and you finally graduate from that, it’s a whole new world on the other side.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
EDC Las Vegas makes festivalgoers feel like family

Upon immersing oneself in the festival’s friendly fanaticism for three days, the question arises: Just what makes EDC elicit such a passionate response from many of its 450,000-plus annual “headliners”?

Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.