Born on August 15, 1956, John Armstrong (aka Buck Cherry) grew up in White Rock. Dropping out of high school, he joined Vancouver's emerging punk scene. With room-mate Art Bergmann he formed the Modernettes and later Los Popularos. A compilation of Modernettes recordings was issued in 2005 by Sudden Death Records, and a reconstituted Modernettes toured Europe and Japan in 2007. Armstrong received nominations for a Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences award and for a West Coast Music Award.

Armstrong joined the Vancouver Sun in 1986 as a journalist and briefly served on the editorial board. His "Too Much, Too Often: The Lonesome Death of Johnny Thunders" won him a B.C. Newspaper Award in 1992. He has also worked as as a paperboy, a caddy, a Bible camp counsellor, a janitor at the Regal Theatre and as a shipper of video porn.

Having licensed the name Buck Cherry to an American band, the "punk packrat" Armstrong sold his extensive collection of punk memorabilia (flyers, set lists, gig posters, photographs, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, backstage passes and handwritten lyric sheets) to Simon Fraser University in 2008, as arranged by Special Collections archivist Eric Swanick. "I started with a plastic Safeway bag," he told the Globe & Mail's Tom Hawthorn, "Then it was two bags. Then three. Then a box. The box turned into a suitcase bought at Value Village. I just hung onto stuff and it grew and grew and grew." Eventually he purchased a wardrobe from a second-hand store to hold his collection. Swanick bought everything, including the wardrobe. According to Hawthorn's article in the Globe & Mail, it was a case of good riddance. "I hung onto all this stuff," Armstrong said. "I did my duty. I'm sick of having it around."

Armstrong is the author of Guilty Of Everything (New Star, 2001), an autobiographical account of his life as Buck Cherry in Vancouver's old-school punk scene. In 2007, publicity material for his second book Wages (New Star, 2007) stated: "Whether he's writing about the Bobbsey Twins, a pair of strippers who really love their vegetables, the Golden Road personal fulfillment seminar (where you learn that you choose your own cancer) or the literal bowels of hometown paper the Picayune-Standard, Armstrong simultaneously excoriates and delights... He is co-owner of Paramount Recorders, a Downtown Eastside recording studio, where he is finishing his first album of new material in 23 years. He currently lives in East Vancouver's Skid Row with a Rotweiller named BoBo. In his spare time he drinks."

A cat might have nine lives, but John Armstrong has had nine dogs--and counting. John Armstrong's A Series of Dogs recalls the first nine canines to adopt him as a friend, regarding each animal as a fully realized character. It's described as "the sort of book that will make your dog whimper and lick your face to make sure you're okay because you're doubled over on the floor laughing so hard." The former bandleader of The Modernettes recalls his first dog, Ruff, followed by a cocker spaniel named Kiltie, Spooky, Chopper, Rip, a $5,000 Rottweiler named Mugsy, Sluggo, Bobo and Seamus. Several cats make cameo appearances in the memoir.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Guilty of Everything


Guilty Of Everything (New Star, 2001)
Wages (New Star, 2007)
A Series of Dogs (New Star 2016) $21 9781554201181

[BCBW 2016] "Music"