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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Johnnie Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnnie Johnson. Show all posts

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cleopatra Records release: A Double Dose Of Blues - Various Artists - New Release review

I just received a cool 2 cd release, A Double Dose Of Blues from Cleopatra Records and it boasts a who's who of blues and guitar giants. Opening the first disc (From Clarksdale To Heaven - Remembering John lee Hooker) is blues giant John Lee Hookers daughter and blues star, Zakiya Hooker on I Want To Hug You, supported is a stately manner by Johnnie Johnson on piano, Bobby Murray on guitar, Tony Cook on synth guitar, David Daniel on bass, Marlon Gren on drums and Victor Puebla on percussion. This shuffle track is really nicely balanced between the power of Hooker's vocals and Johnnie Johnson's key work. Jack Bruce and Gary Moore team up on I'm In The Mood backed by Gary Husband. Gary Moore really lays out a nice solo on this track with Bruce thumping away behind him. Very nice! Vince Converse leads I'm Bad Like Jesse James on guitar and vocal, backed by Leo Lyons and Ric Lee from Ten Years After. Converse really rips some hot riffs under the track , the band basically keeping the skeletal framework as set up by Hooker. The spectacular, Jeff Beck leads Will The Circle Be Unbroken with singers, Siggi Josiah and Earl Green/Kingdom Choir. Beck's signature guitar work is unmistakable and outstanding. Gary Brooker (keys/vocals) and Andy Fairweather-Low (guitars) team up on Baby Lee with a Latin beat by Henry Spinetti. Very cool! T.S. McPhee (guitar and vocal) and Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax) do a super broke down Ground Hog Blues. Mick Taylor on lead vocal and slide teams up with Max Middleton (Jeff Beck Group) for a swinging version of This Is Hip. Always loved Taylor's slide playing! Super. The Peter Green Splinter Group does an authentic style Crawlin' King Snake. With Green on acoustic guitar, and harp, Nigel Watson on open tuned acoustic, Roger Cotton on rhythm guitar and pete Stroud on bass this is deep! Mr Clem Clemson (Humble Pie) teams up with Tony McPhee and Heckstall Smith for a great boogie, I'm Leaving making Hooker proud. Brooker on vocal and piano and Fairweather-Low are back on Little Wheel and each plays solo's that are nicely suited for modern interpretations of Hooker boogie. Gregg's Egg does a modern/pop funky version of The Business featuring Suzanne Sterling on lead guitar and Futoshi Morroka on lead guitar. Jeff Beck is back on Hobo Blues and again with his signature tone. Earl Green on lead vocal actually captures Hooker pretty well. Excellent! Jack Bruce and Gary Moore are back on Serves You Right To Suffer. Bruce with Gary Husband on drums keeps the bottom anchored and Moore sings up a soulful lead vocal accented by crisp guitar riffs. Booker T on organ and Randy California (Spirit)join up with the Hook hinself on lead guitar and vocal to Red House. Cool!

 Disc 2 (Knights of The Blues Table) opens with Send For Me with Jack Bruce on lead vocal, bass and harp with Clemson on guitar and Heckstall Smith on sax. This is a rocker and a great opener. Georgie Fame lays down a cool jazz If You Live. Very nice! Duffy Power on acoustic guitar and coval, backed by Heckstall - Smith on sax and Alex Keen on bass lays down the most basic of modern acoustic blues. Very nice. Chris Jagger takes lead vocal and guitar on Racketeer's Blues, backed by Charlie Hart on bass, Ed Beane on guitar, Malcolm Mortimore on drums and Mick Jagger on harp. Interesting! Peter Brown steps up on lead vocal on Rocks In My Bed. Heckstall-Smith (of Coliseum) sets down some real nice sax lines on this and throughout the release. Miller Anderson, known for vocals on many bands including Savoy Brown, Keef Hartley and Chicken Shack does and excellent job on Don't Let Me be Misunderstood. Maggie Bell (Stone The Crows) teams up with Big Jim Sullivan for Blind Man. Sullivan shows his excellent guitar strength throughout this track and Bells vocals are solid as ever! On Robert Johnson's Travelling Riverside Blues Peter Green and Nigel Watson harmonize and play traditional acoustic guitar riffs. Very nice! Tony McPhee is on acoustic guitar and vocal on Drop Down Mama. This is a real nice modern interpretation of Sleepy John's original. I've always loved this track, I've Got News For You. This arrangement is slow and really bluesy featuring Clemson on vocal and guitar. Didn't know Clem could sing but he sure can. With Mark Feltham on harp and Ronnie Leahy on piano this track is really hot. Sonny Boy Williamson's Nine Below Zero features Dennis Greaves on vocal and guitar and Billy on harp. Nice blues rocker. The Pretty Things lay down Judgement Day with Phil May on Vocal, Dick Taylor on guitar, John Povey on harp, Skip Alan on drums and Wally Allen on Bass. Very Yardbirds like! Paul Jones and Otis Grand do Play On Little Girl/TBone Shuffle. Jones on lead vocal and harp, Grand on guitar, Mike Hobart on sax, Steve Wren on piano, Chico Lopez on bass and Junior Delmas on drums make this a super modern blues rocker! Mick Clarke (vocal and guitar) and Lou Martin (piano) do a very simple but effective cover of James Cotton's One More Mile To Go, one of my favorite tracks on the release... clean and tight! Mick Taylor and Max Middleton team up on Willie Dixon's You Shook Me. Both Middleton and Taylor shine on this number with sweet extended solos. Tom Killner delivers Midnight Call, a solid rocker featuring his own lead vocal and guitar backed by Nigel Killner and Jake Ashton. Wrapping the release is Eli Cook's Sweet Thang featuring Tinsley Ellis. A lumbering bluesy number, this is a real nice track to conclude a super batch of blues and blues rock.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kentucky Headhunters w/Johnnie Johnson - New CD Meet Me In Bluesland - June 2

ALLIGATOR RECORDS SET TO RELEASE MEET ME IN BLUESLAND BY
THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS WITH JOHNNIE JOHNSON ON JUNE 2

http://mailman.305spin.com/users/alligator/images/4965rgb.jpg
Alligator Records has set a June 2 street date for Meet Me In Bluesland, a previously unreleased album by Grammy-winning Southern blues-rockers The Kentucky Headhunters with pianist Johnnie Johnson, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The performances found Johnson -- the man Rolling Stone called “the greatest sideman in rock and roll” for his groundbreaking piano work with Chuck Berry -- playing some of the deepest and most rocking blues piano of his legendary career. With The Kentucky Headhunters at their down-home best, the record is a country-fried, blues-infused party from start to finish.

On January 25, 2003, Johnson joined his hosts, The Rolling Stones, for a rousing rendition of Honky Tonk Women at Houston, Texas’ Reliant Stadium. After hanging out all night with Keith Richards, Johnson got on a plane and flew to Kentucky. There he reunited with his good friends, brothers Richard and Fred Young, Greg Martin, Doug Phelps and Anthony Kenney, known worldwide as The Kentucky Headhunters. The plan was to have Johnnie lay down some piano for the band’s upcoming release, Soul. But the vibe was too strong and the music too good, so the tape just kept rolling. With songs and arrangements furiously being created on the spot and everything recorded live as it happened over the course of three days, a magical musical event was underway. Because the whole session was spontaneous, there were no immediate plans to release an album. After Johnnie’s death in 2005, the tapes, while never forgotten, remained unissued.

With the release of Meet Me In Bluesland, these timeless and rollicking performances are available for the first time. The record grooves from the raunchy rock of Stumblin’ to the slide-fueled Superman Blues to the roof-raising version of Little Queenie to the rocking Party In Heaven to the salacious She’s Got To Have It (the last vocal Johnson ever recorded).

Click here to listen to Stumblin', She's Got To Have It, and Party In Heaven:
https://soundcloud.com/alligator-recs/sets/kentucky-headhunters-w-johnnie/s-KrTVX
“The minute Johnnie sat down with us, the music was a kind of ecstasy,” says guitarist/vocalist Richard Young. “Johnnie made us play like real men,” adds guitarist/vocalist Greg Martin. “Playing with him, the groove got bigger and much more grown up.” Drummer Fred Young explains, “We all admired Johnnie from the start. The first time we played with him was the first time I ever felt like we were doing it right. The music we made on Meet Me In Bluesland is as good as it gets.”

The relationship between Johnson and The Kentucky Headhunters dated back to 1992. Headed to New York for a Grammy Awards party, Greg picked up the new Johnnie Johnson CD, Johnnie B. Bad, for the ride. The band listened to nothing else all the way to New York. Having no idea he’d be at the party, they were shocked to see Johnnie Johnson sitting alone at a table. After some quick introductions, the musicians talked for hours, becoming fast friends. In 1993 they released their first collaboration, That’ll Work, on Nonesuch. They took the show on the road, playing gigs from the West Coast to New England, from Chicago’s Buddy Guy’s Legends to New York City’s Lone Star CafĂ©. They performed at The Jamboree In The Hills in Belmont County, Ohio, where Johnson, with the Headhunters triumphantly jamming behind him, played to over 30,000 fans.

From their very first meeting, Johnson and The Kentucky Headhunters stayed close, getting together whenever possible. In 2003, when the band asked Johnson to record with them again, he couldn’t wait to get back to Kentucky and make music with his friends. “Johnnie’s music was spontaneous, organic, magic energy,” says Greg. “During the recordings, everything was off-the-cuff and easy; a higher power just took over. This album is special, and we’re very happy in 2015 that it’s coming to fruition.” Adds Fred, “Johnnie gave us the gift of letting us know what it was like to do something great.”
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The Kentucky Headhunters, declared “the great American rock ‘n’ roll band” by Billboard magazine, began their professional journey in 1968 when brothers Fred and Richard Young and cousins Greg Martin and Anthony Kenney formed the Southern blues-rock band Itchy Brother. The band morphed into The Kentucky Headhunters in 1986. Their first album, 1989’s Pickin’ On Nashville, was released by Mercury Records and surprised the world, becoming a bona fide hit, selling over two million copies. The album won a Grammy Award, three Country Music Awards, an American Music Award and an Academy Of Country Music Award. It spawned four consecutive Top 40 Country hits. Currently, the band is made up of Richard Young, Fred Young, Greg Martin and Doug Phelps.

Growing up on a 1300-acre family farm in Edmonton, Kentucky, the Young brothers, Martin and Kenney heard plenty of raucous R&B and deep, soulful blues courtesy of Fred and Richard’s mother, who listened to powerhouse radio station WLAC late at night. “She was real hip,” Richard says. “She was a huge influence on us.” Their father loved big band jazz, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Sarah Vaughan. “Music in our home was a mixture, unlike what most farm kids heard.” Part of their musical upbringing included their friendship with three African-American families who lived and worked on nearby farms. The boys heard gospel and blues, both sung by their neighbors in the fields and blasting out of their radios. They were reared on Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters (the name Headhunters was a nickname given to Waters and Jimmy Rogers when they came into a club ready to take on all comers). “All of these things taught us the blues,” says Richard. They loved Chuck Berry, and were especially wowed by Berry’s piano player, Johnnie Johnson. Befriending him and recording with him was a dream come true for the band. According to Fred, “We were fortunate to know him. It was a good marriage.” Richard adds, “Anyone who ever played with him became a better player.”

Johnnie Johnson was born on July 8, 1924 in Fairmont, West Virginia. He began playing piano at age five and never stopped. While serving in the Marines, he joined The Barracudas, a Marines servicemen’s band. He moved to Detroit and then Chicago, eventually playing with Muddy Waters and Little Walter. He landed in St. Louis in 1952 where he formed The Sir John Trio, playing jazz, blues and pop standards. Chuck Berry, an ambitious local guitarist and songwriter, was added to the group the same year and eventually took over leadership of the band. After Berry scored a contract with Chess Records, the hits came fast and furious. Many, including Maybellene, Nadine, Carol and School Days, were fueled by Johnson’s two-fisted piano. He was the high-octane gasoline in Chuck Berry’s rock ‘n’ roll engine. When Chuck wasn’t touring, Johnson played with Albert King, and recorded a number of singles with him for the Bobbin label. Tired of the road, Johnson left Chuck’s band in 1973 and returned to St. Louis to become a bus driver. With the 1987 release of the Chuck Berry documentary, Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, Johnson found himself back in the spotlight, reintroduced to the world by his friend-to-be Keith Richards. After three solo recordings, Johnson joined his musical cohorts The Kentucky Headhunters for 1993’s That’ll Work. In 1996 and 1997 he toured with Ratdog, the band fronted by The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and continued to perform and record until his death in 2005. His 2003 sessions with The Kentucky Headhunters, released now for the very first time as Meet Me In Bluesland, are some of the most spirited and organic recordings of his remarkable and still influential career.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Honky Tonk - Ry Cooder with Johnnie Johnson


Johnnie Johnson (July 8, 1924 – April 13, 2005) was an American pianist and blues musician. His work with Chuck Berry led to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was born Johnnie Clyde Johnson in Fairmont, West Virginia and began playing piano in 1928. He joined the United States Marine Corps during World War II where he was a member of Bobby Troup's all serviceman jazz orchestra, The Barracudas. After his return, he moved to Detroit, Illinois and then Chicago, where he sat in with many notable artists, including Muddy Waters and Little Walter.

He moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1952 and immediately put together a jazz and blues group, The Sir John Trio with drummer Ebby Hardy and saxophonist, Alvin Bennett. The three scored a regular gig at the Cosmopolitan Club in East St. Louis. On New Year's Eve 1952, Alvin Bennett had a stroke and could not perform. Johnson, searching for a last minute replacement, called a young man named Chuck Berry, the only musician Johnson knew who because of his inexperience, would likely not be playing on New Year's Eve. Although then a limited guitarist, Chuck Berry added vocals and showmanship to the group. As Bennett would not be able to play again because of his stroke, Johnson hired Berry as a permanent member of the trio.

They would remain the Sir John's Trio until Berry took one of their tunes, a reworking of Bob Wills' version of "Ida Red" to Chess Records. The Chess brothers liked the tune and soon the trio were in Chicago recording "Maybellene" and "Wee Wee Hours" – a song Johnson had been playing as an instrumental for years for which Berry quickly penned some lyrics. By the time the trio left Chicago, Berry had been signed as a solo act and Johnson and Hardy became part of Berry's band. Said Johnson, "I figured we could get better jobs with Chuck running the band. He had a car and rubber wheels beat rubber heels any day."

Over the next twenty years, the two collaborated in the arrangements of many of Berry's songs including "School Days", "Carol", and "Nadine". The song "Johnny B. Goode" was reportedly a tribute to Johnson, with the title reflecting Johnson's usual behavior when he was drinking. The pianist on the "Johnny B. Goode" session was Lafayette Leake, one of the two main session pianists for Chess (the other being Otis Spann). Leake also played on "Oh Baby Doll", "Rock & Roll Music", "Reelin' and Rockin'", and "Sweet Little Sixteen".

Berry and Johnson played and toured together until 1973. Although never on his payroll after 1973, Johnson played occasionally with Berry until Johnson's death in 2005.

Johnson was known to have a serious drinking problem. In Chuck Berry's autobiography, Berry tells of how he declared there would be no drinking in the car, while on the road. Johnson and bandmates complied with the request by putting their heads out the window. Johnson denied the story but said he did drink on the road. Johnson quit drinking entirely in 1991, after nearly suffering a stroke on stage with Eric Clapton.

Johnson received little recognition until the Chuck Berry concert documentary, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll in 1987. That attention helped Johnson, who was supporting himself as a bus driver in St. Louis at the time, return to music. He recorded his first solo album, Blue Hand Johnnie, that same year. He later performed with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and George Thorogood on Thorogood's 1995 live album Live: Let's Work Together. In 1996 and 1997, Johnson toured with Bob Weir's band, Ratdog, playing 67 shows.

In 1999, Johnson's biography was released, Father of Rock and Roll: The Story of Johnnie B. Goode Johnson by 23-year-old Travis Fitzpatrick. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by Congressman John Conyers, and garnered Johnson more recognition.

In 2000, Johnson was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

In late 2004,Johnson recorded his final project, "Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad!" it was recorded in St.Louis, and all the songs were originals (written with the producer, Jeff Alexander), this was a first for Johnson. the project was released the same week he died in April 2005.

In 2005 He played piano on Styx's Big Bang Theory album on the rerecording of Blue Collar Man, entitled Blue Collar Man @ 2120, since it was recorded at the legendary Chess Studios at 2120 S. Michigan Ave in Chicago. Recorded on the 46th anniversary of the recording of Johnnie B. Goode, at that studio
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Johnnie Be Good - The Movie

A feature length documentary is being done on rock-n-roll pioneer Johnnie Johnson called JOHNNIE BE GOOD. It is in editing at this point. We'll keep you posted on updates on release dates.
On April 13, 2005, when Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson died in his sleep, his obituary appeared in Time Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and Rolling Stone; Reuters sent the story around the world. Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Steven Tyler sent flowers to his funeral, while former Grateful Dead member Bob Weir attended in person. Johnson’s death was an international headline because he is widely considered to be one of the handful of musicians who helped create the musical stew which became rock and roll, and because he once hired an unknown guitar player named Chuck Berry.
In the mid-80’s a documentary directed by Taylor Hackford, “Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll,” jump-started Johnson’s career. He was driving a senior citizen’s bus when Keith Richards hand-picked Johnson for the all-star band that paid tribute to Chuck Berry on his 60th birthday. Johnson showed the world his keyboard wizardry and in the years follwing that film, he began recording his own music and played with superstars Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker and Richards. In 2001, Johnnie Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the sideman category. Music experts in Johnnie Be Good insist he was much more than a sideman and never got the credit he deserved as one half of rock and roll’s first great song-writing team.

In Addition, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Joe Perry and John Sebastian share their opinions. Also interviewed are five key participants in Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll, the movie which caused the music world to rediscover Johnnie: Clapton, movie director Taylor Hackford, movie producer Stephanie Benett of Delilah Films, Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell, and drummer/producer Steve Jordan. Paul Shaffer, music director for The Late Show with David Letterman shares his opinions about Johnnie Johnson, as do guitarist Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O'Brien band, rock legend Al Kooper, Bruce Hornsby, Michael McDonald, and long-time New York d.j.

Executive producing Johnnie Be Good is documentary and feature film director George Hickenlooper, who directed 2006 release Factory Girl, starring Guy Pearce, Sienna Miller, Jimmy Fallon, and Hayden Christensen.