Country Thunder originated in Brown County, Ohio, with the goal of becoming the best band in Southern Ohio. Lead guitarist, Danny Rolph, and country legend and lead vocalist, Bill Bell, got together to get the ball rolling. Chris Miller was brought on later to hold down the low end on bass. James Morris is now rockin’ the pedal steel, Randy Garrett helps hold the rhythm, and Tony Johnson brings a massive amount of Thunder on the drums! We are all seasoned musicians doing what we love. We play the best music of Country and Roc
Danny splits his time as a farmer, mechanic, and a seasoned musician performing live shows with Country Thunder. He’s been playing guitar since he was a young child and has performed with numerous rock and country bands and other musical acts. His motto is “do what’s best for the song” and consistently strives to make each performance better than the last. His style adds to the excitement and thrill that the band delivers at each and every show.
Born November 5, 1978, Bill grew up in Georgetown, Ohio. It wasn’t until the late 1990’ s, that Bill Bell began to explore his passion for the music he had loved since early childhood. With many prominent figures as his inspiration, he spent countless nights in small clubs and karaoke bars across southern Ohio. Bill performed in the Country Roads show at the La Comedia Dinner Theater in Springboro, Ohio. He was the lead singer for other local bands such as Krossfire and Just For Fun prior to finding his home as the front man for Country Thunder.
Bill is always up for a challenge and has shown himself to be equally adept at a wide variety of American music styles beyond Country, including Rock and Roll and Blues. Bill strives to be as professional and a class act as his mentor, George Strait. Big shoes to fill but Bill is up to the challenge!
Chris is the true low-end master, pounding out heavy bass riffs so well he needs five strings to contain himself.
Chris learned to play the bass at 16. He began following his cousin’s country band, learning their songs and sitting in whenever possible. After high school, he earned a scholarship in jazz performance from Xavier University. After appreciating jazz in school, he began pursuing his real dream of playing in a country or rock band.
While building a career and raising a family, Chris played part-time with various Cincinnati-based rock bands including Eclypse, Amnesia Lane, Hint of Addiction, Reveal, and True Justice as well as with country solo artist JonaleeWhite, just to name a few.
Chris moved to Southern California for his “day job” in 2013 and had the honor of playing at the TheWhiskey and House of Blues in Hollywood with Solomon Grundy. Fortunately, Chris had the opportunity to move back to Ohio and began rocking with Country Thunder.
Tony Johnson has been playing with Country Thunder for the past two and a half years. Tony got his first drum set at the age of six. He finally received his first professional set at age 19 and the excitement only grew. For the past 30 years, Tony has been in many local bands around southern Ohio. Tony has played multiple styles such as rock, metal, southern rock and country.
In 1998, Tony opened for Nevermore, and in 2004 for Overkill, both prominent Heavy Metal bands at the time. In 2011, Tony was in a local cover band that also played some original tunes. From 2011 to 2012, Tony played in a project called My Beautiful Letdown, which was an all-original project. In 2017, he joined Will Stone, who is a local singer/songwriter and also did some session work for another local country artist. During that time, Tony also played with local band DC Planet and completed two studio projects. Having gone to high school with the bass player, Chris Miller, Tony was asked to audition for Country Thunder in 2019. “The first time that we played together was awesome.” Tony knew that the caliber of musicians he was playing with was high.
“Since that day, we have grown as a band, and I am glad to be playing with each and every one of the guys in Country Thunder”.
Randy started playing guitar in 1977. He is influenced by many music legends including Janis Joplin, Hank Williams, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.
Randy has over 25 years of experience playing in local bands such as Country Express, Rescue (rock), Inside Straight (classic rock/country), Southern Justice (classic rock/country) and Off-R-Rockers (classic rock/country). Randy’s best memory was opening for Mark Farner(Grand Funk Railroad) in 1994.
Randy joined Country Thunder in 2021 and has been a fantastic addition!
Playing the pedal steel guitar for Country Thunder is James Morris. James grew up in Amelia, Ohio and currently lives in Deer Park.
Some of James’ earliest memories are from riding in a silver eagle bus with his father’s gospel groups when he was young. James began playing music at the age of 11. While James is proficient at playing several instruments, it was the pedal steel guitar that rekindled his passion and love for playing music.
James travelled regionally with several gospel groups as a teenager and young man. Prior to joining Country Thunder, James was the House steel guitarist at the Lebanon Opry House.