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Johnnie Johnson - Johnnie's Boogie
Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Johnson dies
- 13th April 2005

Johnnie Johnson, pianist, who collaborated with Chuck Berry on many of his early hits has died. They later had a falling out over royalties in 2000.

[ see Knocking the Rock ]
[ RRHoF inductee in 2001 ]
[ Johnnie Johnson site ]
[ BBC News ]

Rock and Roll Hall of Shame

"... Johnnie Johnson sat in front of the TV set and watched Chuck Berry perform Johnnie B. Goode in front of 60,000 fans at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's grand-opening concert".
"It was the song that Chuck Berry wrote as a tribute to Johnnie, the national anthem of rock 'n' roll,'' Turek says. "And they didn't even invite him to the concert."
[ see Knocking the Rock ]
[ RRHoF inductee in 2001 ]
[ Johnnie Johnson site ]
[ BBC News ]
They eventually put it right in 2001.

Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad - new CD

Johnnie Johnson, collaborator and pianist with Chuck Berry, just released a new CD. "Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad".
Johnnie and I co-wrote all the songs, I produced it on my label, Cousin Moe Music. All original and it rocks. I used all St Louis musicians, and Johnnie played his heart.
We cut it late last year. The manufactured product returned from the factory the day before Johnnie passed. He knew his music was here. - Jeff Alexander - producer

details at [ Cousin Moe Music ]

Hail hail ! Rock and Roll
and Johnnie Johnson

June 27th is the release date of the DVD for "Hail! Hail ! Rock and Roll!" The film was ostensibly about Chuck Berry. It also was the beginning of Johnnie Johnson's rise from obscurity. The film began the process by which the public began to learn the truth about Johnnie’s role in the creation of the songs credited to Chuck Berry, and in the creation of Rock and Roll itself. The public is still learning. There is still a lot to tell, and a lot more for people to learn about Johnnie Johnson.

To honor Johnnie Johnson Cousin Moe Music will offer downloads of Johnnie's last solo recording project, "Johnnie Be Eighty! And Still Bad!". The music will be available at the website at

“Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad!” is a completely original project, taped live in the studio to capture the essence of a Johnnie Johnson performance. As such it offers a unique perspective on Johnnie’s collaborating and songwriting contributions.

[ cousin moe music ]
Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad - CD
Johnnie Johnson
Pianist and colaborator with Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

Johnnie Johnson website links


Johnnie Johnson discography

Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad 2005
Johnnie Be Back 1995
That'll Work 1993
Rockin' Eighty-Eights
Johnnie B. Bad 1991
Blue Hand Johnnie 1988
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Johnnie Johnson
Chuck Berry
© wikipedia

Johnnie Johnson - bio

Johnson died on Wednesday, 13th April 2005 at his home in St. Louis, at the age of eighty, after recent bouts with pneumonia and a kidney ailment. With his death, rock & roll lost a vital link to its roots in the Chicago boogie-woogie of Meade Lux Lewis and the jumping-piano jazz of Earl Hines and Count Basie.

Born on July 8th, 1924, in Fairmont, Virginia, Johnson was the son of a coal miner and entirely self-taught on the piano. By the early Fifties, he was in St. Louis, leading his own combo. But on New Year's Eve 1952, Johnson hired a struggling, local guitarist, Chuck Berry, to sit in for another member of the band. Johnson quickly ceded the limelight to Berry's guitar and songs, and both of their lives were changed forever. Johnson went on to become the greatest sideman in rock & roll, at the very moment the music was being born.

He played on most of Berry's biggest and best records of the Fifties and early Sixties, including "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Little Queenie" and "Nadine (Is It You?)." Johnson played with Berry, on and off, into the Seventies, until personal tensions, compounded by Johnson's drinking, caused Johnson to retire back to St. Louis. He was driving a van for the elderly when Keith Richards brought him out of retirement to play at the 1986 shows filmed for the Chuck Berry concert movie, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll.

In the early Nineties, Johnson recorded two solo records for Elektra's American Explorer series. And in 2001, Keith Richards inducted Johnson into the Hall of Fame.

"It was so much fun to play with Johnnie," said Bo Diddley, with whom Johnson played his final show. "The world has lost a great man and a great musician."

The "Father of rock and roll"

Chuck Berry's apprenticeship with Johnnie Johnson

Chuck Berry
By early 1953 Berry was performing with Johnnie Johnson's trio, starting a long-time collaboration with the pianist. Although the band played mostly blues and ballads, the most popular music among whites in the area was country. Berry wrote, "Curiosity provoked me to lay a lot of our country stuff on our predominantly black audience and some of our black audience began whispering 'who is that black hillbilly at the Cosmo?' After they laughed at me a few times they began requesting the hillbilly stuff and enjoyed dancing to it."

Chuck Berry's calculated showmanship, along with mixing country tunes with R&B tunes, and singing in the style of Nat King Cole to the music of Muddy Waters, brought in a wider audience, particularly affluent white people.
Keith Richards inducts Johnnie Johnson (aged 77) and James Burton into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2001
Johnnie Johnson and James Burton accept Hall of Fame induction
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