Murder Victim's Side Gig: Leading a Chicago Tribute Band

A lot already has been said about the controversial business dealings of Andra and Brad Sachs, killed Sunday in San Juan Capistrano. But there was another side to Brad.

Brad Sachs' Chicago tribute band plays the Anaheim House of Blues in May 2008. Photo courtesy Doug Heiser and Mike Johnson.
Brad Sachs' Chicago tribute band plays the Anaheim House of Blues in May 2008. Photo courtesy Doug Heiser and Mike Johnson.

While much is being made of San Juan Capistrano murder victims Brad and Andra Sachs’ business failures, financial troubles and harsh dealings, Brad Sachs did have another side to him: As a drummer in a Chicago tribute band.

The Sachs were found murdered in their posh home on Peppertree Bend in San Juan Capistrano Sunday. An 8-year-old son was seriously injured in the attack, about which Orange County Sheriff's officials have said little. 

But long before all this, San Juan Capistrano resident Mike Johnson – in the microchip business by day who plays trumpet by night – was in the band Sachs formed.

“He was a decent musician. He was a good drummer,” Johnson said of Sachs.

The band, 25 or 6 to 4, played the Anaheim House of Blues once (see video) in May 2008. It was the band’s biggest moment, Johnson said.

“We packed the place,” he said. “After that, [the plan was] we’d start doing the House of Blues circuit. We’d open for other bands. But that never materialized.”

Referencing their reputation as shrewd, Johnson -- who also bought surplus semiconductors from them 10 years ago -- said: “In business they were both cut from the same cloth. In walking through life, he was nicer.”

The band would practice in the Sachses’ former Irvine-based telecommunications company.

Says a website promoting the band: “Our four-part harmonies always get everybody singing along. … Close your eyes and you'll swear that you are at a Chicago concert.”

Johnson said he brought in the horn section, and everyone was expecting bigger and better things. Everyone except maybe Brad Sachs.

“For us, we were  looking to take it to the next level. For Brad, I think he just enjoyed getting together and playing,” Johnson said.

He left the band after Sachs continued to require he perform for free.

“The music was fun and we were a really good band. But Brad just didn’t know how to take it forward,” Johnson said.



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