Love (right) gets religion and a second lease on his musical life.
  • Love (right) gets religion and a second lease on his musical life.
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“When I went into prison I was under the delusion that I hadn’t done anything bad enough to merit prison time,” wrote Johnny Love (of San Diego band the Johnny Love Sound) in an email. On January 18, 2006, Love was sentenced to four years in state penitentiary for the possession and distribution of child pornography.

“I was terrified that anyone would find out about me [in prison] modus operandi was to keep my mouth shut, keep looking over my shoulder, and never look anyone directly in the eye.”

That’s how it was for the incarcerated singer-songwriter until March 31, 2006, just over two months after he started his term, when a Baptist prison missionary told him to read the Book of Galatians from the New Testament.

“Suddenly, the cross made sense to me...that Jesus was suffering the punishment I deserved for my sins and reconciling me to God by making atonement on behalf of me. This was immediately followed by an ecstatic experience that lasted several weeks...”

Love says that religion wasn’t the only thing that kept him from going crazy — he rediscovered music.

“The corrections officers would take me around to play guitar for the administrative and nursing staffs. There were also event days when they would bring out a whole line of amps and drums and electric instruments with a P.A., and I played a Johnny Love set for all the inmates on the yard. Plus innumerable acoustic jams in the dorms and on the lawn.”

Not to mention the spontaneous heating vent sessions.

“[We] used the heating vent like a telephone,” wrote Love. “I didn’t spend a lot of time talking this way, but I did take [song requests]. The most requested number was ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ with ‘Turn the Page’ a close second.

Past Event

Johnny Love & Michael Staples

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Trinitea Tea, 8680 Navajo Road #109, San Carlos

“When I discharged parole [in January 2011] I made some attempts to reconnect to the music scene, but it became apparent that some of the places I used to go to no longer wanted me to come around. But it really wasn’t important to me because I was happy spending my time studying the Word of God... Then last December Michael Staples [longtime friend and former bandmate] rolled into town with his drums and his dog, CJ, with the sole intention of playing music with me and trying to make a success out of it.

When asked what kind of reception he thought he would receive as he re-entered the San Diego Music scene, Love explained, “I expect that people are going to hate me. If someone hates me, I can’t hold it against them... I know that my evil acts have alienated several of the people I used to be close to... It is righteous to hate what is evil and I did evil things.”

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Jay Allen Sanford April 9, 2014 @ 10:49 p.m.

John Pertle aka Johnny Love pled guilty in November 2005 to five felony counts of distributing child pornography and four felony counts of possession of child porn with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to four years in a state penitentiary in early 2006.

“I am not the monster that the prosecution has made me out to be,” he told the Reader at the time via email (forwarded by his mother). “I was sexually abused as a child and addicted to pornography from a very young age; that had a lot to do with how I eventually looked at sex. I'm in therapy now and working on dealing with those issues and with the things I did as a result of what happened to me.”

More about Love can be found on his Reader band page -


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