‘Schizoid Johnny’ comes to UWO

Kylie Balk-Yaatenen, Arts & Entertainment Editor

After more than 5,000 professional performances, a 1977 alumnus is coming back to his alma mater to perform at the 100th anniversary of UW Oshkosh’s Homecoming.

John Steinhardt, also known as Schizoid Johnny, will perform at the Titan Underground in Reeve Memorial Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday during Titan Tailgate.

Courtesy of John Stienhardt
John Steinhardt has been a professional musician for fifty years.


“I know it is going to sound strange, but being a musician is part of my structure,” Steinhardt said. “It’s who I am and I knew right away when I was a little boy.”

Steinhardt was raised in Allenville, north of Oshkosh. He started his music education at 8 when he learned how to play the trombone. By 11, he had learned how to play the guitar, and that was soon followed by drums and piano.

He played in jazz bands at Winneconne High School and while still in high school, he started studying trombone and music theory at UW-Madison. By 15, he was in his first rock band called Blue Confusion playing at the local roller rink, and by 17, Steinhardt was making money playing guitar and touring at bars across Wisconsin and Illinois.

He went on to graduate in 1977 with a major in music education at UWO, where he studied and performed with Clark Terry, an American swing and bebop trumpeter.

Steinhardt said he played and recorded trombone in the soundtrack of Exit Dying, a movie that was written, edited and directed by UWO professor Bob Jacobs in 1976, which starred actor Henry Darrow, who was best known for his role as Manolito “Mano” Montoya on the 1960s television series The High Chaparral.

During his time touring, he performed in Las Vegas where his show combined comedy, characters and multiple musical instruments. His fans called him “Schizoid” because he would switch from one character to another and from song to song. He said the name just stuck.

He has been a professional musician for 50 years and has been a touring musician for 31 years. He has performed in 5,417 professional performances and has given 19 years of service as a music educator in Wisconsin, California, Texas, Wyoming and Montana.

Steinhardt said that he gets his inspiration from many different styles of music.

He draws influences from such musicians and bands as Buddy Holly, The Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Kansas and Rush.

He also said his time at UWO is what really shaped him into the musician he is today. Learning about jazz and classical music helped refine his technique and develop his style.

“I still think back to what a wonderful time it was being part of the music department at UWO,” he said. “At times it almost felt like family and a good place to be at home.”

He said that he loves performing and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, no matter how old he gets.

“There’s a flame. Ever since I was a little boy, there has been this flame from my spirit when I perform,” he said. “At age 66, my body is not what it used to be, but when I get on the stage and I’m warming up, that flame comes back. It is like a rejuvenation of the body and the soul connected together; there is nothing like it.”

He said that some advice he would give to college students pursuing a career in music is to try to do something no one else has done before.

“Find exactly what you want to do, focus on that one thing, make a piece of art that no one has ever done before and then never stop doing it.”

Steinhardt said that his performance is unlike anything people have seen before and that people should go if they want to see passion and original music.