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Johnny Lee

Texas-born country singer Johnny Lee spent years as a journeyman performer, playing Lone Star honky tonks and recording for various labels, before finally breaking through as a major crossover star with the 1980 hit "Lookin' for Love." John Lee Ham was born in Alta Loma, Texas on July 3, 1946, and he came of age listening to first-generation rock & roll artists such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Billing himself as Johnny Lee, Ham went from fan to performer in high school, when he and his friends formed a band called the Road Runners. The Road Runners' local success came to a halt when Lee joined the Navy and served in Southeast Asia as America's involvement in Vietnam grew. After Lee was discharged, he bounced around from Texas to California looking for gigs, and landed his first serious break when he met honky tonk man Mickey Gilley in 1968; Lee reminded Gilley of the time they had met and talked music in Galveston, Texas, and Gilley allowed Lee to join him on-stage that evening. Gilley eventually signed Lee as a backing vocalist and trumpet player, unaware that Lee was pulling his leg and the two hadn't previously met.

For five years, Lee was part of Gilley's band for his standing engagement at Gilley's nightclub in Pasadena, Texas, and when Gilley was playing road dates, Lee was the headliner in his absence. Lee stepped out as a solo act in 1973; he cut a few songs for the tiny Astro label, but when they failed to chart, he started working with Gilley again. Lee scored minor successes recording for ABC/Dot ("Sometimes") and GRT ("Country Party"), but Lee's shot at the big time came in 1979, when filmmaker James Bridges came to Texas to shoot the movie Urban Cowboy. Irving Azoff, the high-powered music business mogul who was producing the film and coordinating the soundtrack, helped Lee land a small part in the film playing himself, and asked Lee to record a song for the soundtrack. Lee was given the song "Lookin' for Love," and when Urban Cowboy's soundtrack album came out in tandem with the film in 1980, "Lookin' for Love" rose to number one on the country charts and number five on the pop charts. Now signed to Azoff's Full Moon label (distributed by Warner/Elektra/Asylum), Lee dropped his own album titled Lookin' for Love, and it spun off three more country hits, "One in a Million," "Pickin' Up Strangers," and "Prisoner of Hope."

Lee's days on the pop charts were over by 1981, but he was a consistent hitmaker on country radio for the next few years, touring regularly with his own band and charting high with tunes like "Bet Your Heart on Me," "Sounds Like Love," "Hey Bartender," "You Could Have Heard a Heart Break," and "The Yellow Rose" (the latter a duet with Lane Brody). Lee even landed a TV star spouse, marrying Charlene Tilton, one of the stars of Dallas, on Valentine's Day, 1982. However, Lee and Tilton split up in 1984, and a year later, Lee recorded his last album for WEA, 1985's Workin' for a Livin'; after 1989's New Directions, a one-off release for Curb, Lee's days with the major labels were done, with the album's highest charting single, "I Can Be a Heartbreaker Too," peaking at a disappointing number 53 on the country charts.

If Lee's recording career was starting to fade, he remained active as a touring act, playing regularly in Texas and the Southwest, and documenting two shows with independent live albums, 1999's Live at Gilley's and 2002's Live at Billy Bob's Texas. Lee continued to record for smaller labels, releasing The 13th of July in 2003, It's a Long Way Back in 2004, and the holiday-themed album Santa Claus Is Lookin' for Love in 2005. In 2008, Lee began appearing regularly in Branson, Missouri, playing his hits for his longtime fans. While business dealings led to a falling out between Lee and Mickey Gilley in the '80s, in 2015 the two buried the hatchet and reunited for a concert tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of the release of Urban Cowboy. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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Only the good die young...This guy will never die..Think about it
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Urban cowboy is like my all time favorite movie and I love this song!!
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He's a Texan. That's why he's awesome. But seriously phenomenal singer. Still sounds awesome. And he's a Texan. Lol
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Love it!
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Johnny lee, nice
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Sounds good and Pandora introduced me to him right here thanks. :o))
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chanceh09
Johnny Lee came to my job in the small town of Hempstead tx no more than 3 weeks ago. And although I thought it was an HONOR meeting such a star he turned out to be the perviest old man I have ever met. He had the dirtiest jokes and was too touchy with women. That lost all respect for me but I guess money and fame can do that to you? Crazy but I still like his music just no respect for people like that.
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Good song
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Great music
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dae_love_5
love this so so much!
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pappyrickhol d e r
It th3 best
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Love u Johnny Lee !!!!!
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Really like this era of country music , urban cowboy was a great movie also
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FANTASTIC!
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Omg omg this is my song yee yee
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Johnny Lee ,u r more then awesome I love u !!!!
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rubengarcia4 5 1 7 6
Urban Cowboy
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shawnf6336
great song, good movie
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love this song ,
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Love Johnny lee ,awesome song !!!!
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70s was great
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Thats country!
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Good song
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One of my favorites
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Love Johnny lee !!!!
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Love to dance this song with my cuz.
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Love his music.
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country can change lives,just listen and enjoy where it takes you
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that's how cowboys get horse s**t on their mustache
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come to west Virginia
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Gospel music and country music are the best. Try listening it might change your life.
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Country music ls music unlike rock and roll and rapp get al life with country music.
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Country music is sick and needs to vomit all this new sound down the toilet. 40 years old and now i know what my dad meant. How times are changing for the worse.
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Cut the crap with all this don't read this cant you losers find another way to entertain yourselves , This is for music lovers not BS,
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My dad played in his HS band with him, Johnny Lee and the Roadrunners. We are from the same home town.
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Don't read this because it atually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life tommorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if your done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary because it actually works.
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A great classic song
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love the song looking for love
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deborah_harr i s o n 2
Love listening to his sexy voice. Great singer!
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Johnny Lee has always been one of my favorite singers. I absolutely love his voice. When I am having a bad day all I have to do is turn on a Johnny Lee CD and I start feeling better.
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I saw him play at a bar in Houston last year. He was easy going and let everyone take photos. Afterward, he posed with his fans for pictures and signed autographs for everyone who wanted one. His music brings back a lot of memories for me.
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heehawkitty
mac davis
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rojo9216
Lookin for love brings great memories in my life
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yes what is JOHNNY LEE DOING NOW DAYS, DOSE HE STILL SING SURE HOPE SO. THANKS KAREN PS. HES A GOOD SINGER
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I like the song look for love the best right now Iam In Love
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l.wiles
I want GILLEY'S back! I just heard that Mickey Gilley is paralized from the neck down from a fall off a ladder accident!
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please put him on my radio station. His style is so relaxing and mellow- won't ever be another Johnny Lee!
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Saw Johnny Lee in Branson several years ago, still sounds great, and seems like a nice guy.
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kent.leiker
makes you want to ride a mechanical bull
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Add lookin for love
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