Asim Can Gündüz – Awesome John
Asim Can Gündüz – Awesome John was a composer, guitarist and performer with a message. He dedicated his life to music and the pursuit of bringing joy and love to people around the world through the celebration of music. Born in the American Hospital in Turkey, his life's journey took him to New York City at the age of three when his family immigrated to the United States. By his teens, he began a successful career playing Jimi Hendrix in "Jimi and Janis Together Again", a Broadway Musical, Throughout his 45 year career, Awesome John established and mentored many musicians and bands, established professional organizations to benefit musicians in the Turkish music industry. He was co-founder of radio stations Energy FM, Power FM radio and Kiss FM radios in Turkey and an influential DJ who style set the standard for many DJ's in years to come. His television and radio shows were always number one in the country's ratings. His creative genius for comedy and music coupled by his powerful live performances left an indelible mark in the hearts of his audiences around the world . His legacy as a musician is acknowledged by the New York Hall of Fame's induction of Awesome John as "Legendary Blues Artist" in 2016 just only a few days before his passing.
Asim Can Gunduz is survived by his 20 year old, very talented singer, song writer and guitarist son Evrencan Gunduz, and his two sisters Ally Ayşe Gündüz and youngest sister, Jeannie Gulhan Gunduz.
Asim Can Gündüz – Awesome John
Outside of his native nation of Turkey, his English speaking fans had named him “Awesome John”) because his actual Turkish name, Asim Can Gunduz, was too hard to pronounce and sounded very close to “Awesome John” and, secondly, his fans would refer to his performances as “totally Awesome!”. Originally born in in the American Hospital of Istanbul, he was raised a native New Yorker after immigrating to the USA with his parents at age of three. The son of Turkish immigrants, Awesome John lived in New York City until early 1980s where he was known as John Gundez and Asim Gunduz. During those years, he formed many legendary NYC cult bands like “Concrete Sky, Zacheria, Gundez, and Katawba". In his early years, his trio band mostly played Awesome Johns’s original material in three piece rock band style.
Awesome John was influenced in his youth by guitar greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad, Mountain, Alvin Lee, Johnny Winter, Cream, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc. He was acclaimed by New York critics as “The coming of the next Guitar idol”. He was selected out of thousands of guitarists and was cast in the starring role of Jimi Hendrix in the NYC Broadway musical tribute “Jimi and Janis Together Again”.
Awesome John sold out four nights straight at the legendary Famous New York Greenwich Village night club “The Bottom Line”. While being interviewed live on NYC radio the club owner of the famous Bottom Line club stated, “Awesome John is the best guitarist he ever heard”.
Awesome John then went on tour performing across America. He opened for many greats such as Leslie West, Billy Cobham, Deep Purple and many others. He became known for his soaring guitar performances and his ability to really “get the audience cheering”. During these performances he was touted by critics as "the coming of the new Jimi Hendrix". However, his promising career in the USA was cut short after the poor health of his parents forced Gündüz to return to Turkey at the height of his career in the US.
When he arrive in Turkey, Awesome John saw great political turmoil in his native country. Brain washed by opposing political fractions, the youth of Turkey were shooting each other in the streets. Awesome John took it as a personal mission upon himself to try and make a positive change in the social fabric of Turkey during these turbulent years.
His message was, “hey kids forget the guns pick up the guitars lets all have fun like normal teens do everywhere, you have the right to be happy, forget the fighting, lets rock!”.
He formed many socially influential rock bands like Ambulans, Delikanli-, Affetmez, Çapkinlar, and Hard Raki. Gündüz finished the sessions for his first album Anasinin Gözü Cin Gibi in 1989, but it could only be released three years later in 1992 after bitter battles with Turkish censorship. During this time the tapes of these original and influential recordings were heavily circulated (during the time period of three years from 1989-1992).
These first recordings had a great influence on the entire music industry in Turkey leading to the birth of totally new musical genres such as “Turkish Rap, Turkish Political satirical POP, Hard Oriental Rock and Turkish Blues, etc.
Later Gündüz released his second album “Bir Sevgi Eseri / A Work Of Love” in 1998 a project that he dedicated to the memory of his late mother. This album was also the first of its kind in that it consisted of Turkish versions of great romantic blues classic hits. It took Awesome John six (6) years to convince Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, Lionel Ritchie, George Michaels, Sam Brown Richard Marks and Carlos Santana to allow him to perform their music in Turkish and release it in Turkey.
This was a virtually impossible task since up until that time Turkey had a very bad record of royally infringements. In order to overcome this, Awesome John became one of the founding members of the musical association “MSG” which is the equivalent of ASCAP. Awesome John then went on to actively influence the Turkish media (which at that time had just been released from the Federal “one channel only” restrictions and was in its infancy blossoming into a multi channeled nation.).
During this time he starred on many TV and radio shows, on ATV and Power FM (of -Istanbul), Kiss FM, TRT 1 and many others. Outspoken and outlandish in his media presence, Asim Can Gündüz was best known for his high energy guitar shows and powerful stage presence. Outside of his music, he was also very active in charity work and social services for the needy and has done countless charity concerts and fund raisers for victims of poverty and natural disasters.
Asim Can Gündüz is a mixture of a modern electric guitar virtuoso, stage show man and talk show host, and social activist all in one-- making him very unusual amongst Turkish Pop icons. He is credited with being the first artist to perform Turkish Rap, Turkish Hard Rock, and Turkish blues. His virtuoso guitar skills and colorful showmanship attracted online viewers from around the world to watch Awesome John related videos and info on the internet. It was only after the year 2000 that Asim Can Gündüz / Awesome John once again started touring and performing outside of his native Turkey. These thrilling shows were regularly posted on public internet video sites, creating great interest from internet viewers.
The ever growing local and especially international interest in Awesome John, created concert offers from around the globe which led him to perform concerts in Europe, Russia, and the USA.
It seems that the long absence he took off from his international career to concentrate on “helping out his nation stop killing each other and just chill out and rock together” is now entering a new international phase where the entire world is getting a chance to see and experience this uniquely gifted performer for first time themselves. Awesome John has always been there, always rocking, always spreading the love…. During his the final years of his life, he was better than ever and rocked the world. His family believes that souls in heaven better hold on to their seats, because heaven is going