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Johnny Young

Although the mandolin is not an instrument commonly associated with Chicago blues, it has been used by Chicago-based string bands or on Chicago-made recordings by artists such as Carl Martin, Charles and Joe McCoy, and Yank Rachell. However, the only artist to use it successfully in the later electric blues format was Mississippi-born bluesman Johnny Young.

An important figure in blues history, Young loved the rough-and-tumble string band tradition of the Delta, a style that readily co-existed with blues.

Young's initial 1947 Chicago classic, "Money Taking Women," exhibits the same exuberant down-home sound, fusing blues with the older country breakdown traditions. The string band ensemble sound suited street performance as well, whether in Memphis or in Chicago's open air Maxwell Street Market, where Young and his cronies were brought in off the streets to record. Over the years, Young's mandolin activity declined as Chicago's African-American blues audience demanded a more modern and urban sound. Since Young was also a skilled guitarist and a fine vocalist, he easily weathered the transition.

During the late '60s, an emerging white blues-revival audience proved eager for Young's mandolin styling. Unlike Yank Rachell, whose mandolin playing retained an older string band feel, Young's style was firmly grounded in a more contemporary postwar blues idiom, and he interacted well with other electric blues artists. Throughout his life, he had worked with the major figures of blues history, including Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Walter Horton, and Otis Spann. He was, he insisted, born to be a musician. When interviewed shortly before he died, he said he had struggled all his life trying to make it in the music business. An emotional man, he hoped he would live long enough to make enough money to buy a house. He never made it. ~ Barry Lee Pearson
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Johnny Young And His Friends

1. Prison Bound

2. Sugar Farm Blues

3. All My Money Gone

4. My Home Ain't Here

5. Blues For Big Time

6. Did You Get That Letter?

7. I'm Leaving Baby

8. I Got It

9. Bumble Bee

10. Meet Me In The Bottom

11. You Made Me Feel So Good

12. Want My Lovin'

13. Blues And Trouble

14. Kid Man Blues

15. Humpty Dumpty

16. Instrumental

17. Forty-Four Blues

18. Whoop It Up

x

Track List: Chicago Blues

1. Wild, Wild Woman

2. Keep Your Nose Out Of My Business

3. I'm Having A Ball

4. My Trainfare Out Of Town

5. I'm Doing All Right

6. Stealin'

7. Keep On Drinking

8. Hot Dog!

9. Come Early In The Morning

10. Moaning And Groaning

11. Cross-Cut Saw

12. Slam Hammer

13. Strange Girl

14. Ring Around My Heart

15. Sometimes I Cry

16. Don't You Lie To Me

17. On The Road Again

18. Walter's Boogie

19. Stockyard Blues

20. Drinking Straight Whiskey

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