Alabama Shakes drummer Steven William Johnson arrested on child abuse charges

Steven William Johnson, the drummer with Grammy-winning rock band Alabama Shakes, has been arrested on charges of child abuse.

The charges include “wilful torture, wilful abuse, and cruelly beating or otherwise wilfully maltreating a child under the age of 18”.

The Limestone county sheriff’s office in Limestone County, Alabama, confirmed to Rolling Stone that Johnson was arrested on 24 March and taken to Limestone County jail, with bail set at $21,500 (£15,600).

Alabama Shakes went on hiatus in 2018; the band’s singer, Brittany Howard, released a solo album, Jaime, in 2019. The band has not commented on Johnson’s arrest. The Guardian has contacted representatives for the group.

In Maart 2020, Johnson pleaded guilty to violating a domestic violence protection order filed by his ex-wife, who accused Johnson of threatening, harassment, stalking and choking her in 2018, when they divorced after three and a half years of marriage. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence and 24 months’ probation.

Formed in 2009, Alabama Shakes established themselves locally via live shows featuring original songs and covers of hits by the likes of AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. In 2011, they signed to ATO in the US and Rough Trade in the UK, en received critical acclaim – and several Grammy nominations – for their debut album, 2012’s Boys & Girls.

Their second album, 2015’s Sound & Color, was also well regarded: Don’t Wanna Fight won best rock song and best rock performance at the 2016 Grammys, and the album was named best alternative music album, and nominated for album of the year.

In 2019, Howard said that writing with the group had become difficult. “Nothing was happening,” she told Pitchfork. “It was really torturous, because we’re usually really good at that.” She decided to go her own way: Jaime also received seven Grammy nominations, this year winning best rock song for Stay High.

Johnson will be arraigned on 7 April.

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