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Lonnie Johnson

Blues guitar simply would not have developed in the manner that it did if not for the prolific brilliance of Lonnie Johnson. He was there to help define the instrument's future within the genre and the genre's future itself at the very beginning, his melodic conception so far advanced from most of his prewar peers as to inhabit a plane all his own. For more than 40 years, Johnson played blues, jazz, and ballads his way; he was a true blues originator whose influence hung heavy on a host of subsequent blues immortals.

Johnson's extreme versatility doubtless stemmed in great part from growing up in the musically diverse Crescent City. Violin caught his ear initially, but he eventually made the guitar his passion, developing a style so fluid and inexorably melodic that instrumental backing seemed superfluous. He signed up with OKeh Records in 1925 and commenced to recording at an astonishing pace -- between 1925 and 1932, he cut an estimated 130 waxings. The red-hot duets he recorded with white jazz guitarist Eddie Lang (masquerading as Blind Willie Dunn) in 1928-1929 were utterly groundbreaking in their ceaseless invention. Johnson also recorded pioneering jazz efforts in 1927 with no less than Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Duke Ellington's orchestra.

After enduring the Depression and moving to Chicago, Johnson came back to recording life with Bluebird for a five-year stint beginning in 1939. Under the ubiquitous Lester Melrose's supervision, Johnson picked up right where he left off, selling quite a few copies of "He's a Jelly Roll Baker" for old Nipper. Johnson went with Cincinnati-based King Records in 1947 and promptly enjoyed one of the biggest hits of his uncommonly long career with the mellow ballad "Tomorrow Night," which topped the R&B charts for seven weeks in 1948. More hits followed posthaste: "Pleasing You (As Long as I Live)," "So Tired," and "Confused."

Time seemed to have passed Johnson by during the late '50s. He was toiling as a hotel janitor in Philadelphia when banjo player Elmer Snowden alerted Chris Albertson to his whereabouts. That rekindled a major comeback, Johnson cutting a series of albums for Prestige's Bluesville subsidiary during the early '60s and venturing to Europe under the auspices of Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau's American Folk Blues Festival banner in 1963. Finally, in 1969, Johnson was hit by a car in Toronto and died a year later from the effects of the accident.

Johnson's influence was massive, touching everyone from Robert Johnson, whose seminal approach bore strong resemblance to that of his older namesake, to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, who each paid heartfelt tribute with versions of "Tomorrow Night" while at Sun. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 1 (1925-1926)

1. Mr Johnson's Blues

2. Falling Rain Blues

3. Very Lonesome Blues

4. When I Was Lovin' Changed My Mind Blues

5. Sun To Sun Blues

6. Bed Of Sand

7. Lonesome Jail Blues

10. Love Story Blues

11. Nile Of Genago

12. Five O'Clock Blues

13. Johnson's Trio Stomp

14. Woman Changed My Life

15. Lonnie's Got The Blues

16. Good Old Wagon

17. A Good Happy Home

18. Baby You Don't Know My Mind

19. I Have No Sweet Woman Now

20. You Drove A Good Man Away

21. Ball And Chain Blues

23. There's No Use Of Lovin'

24. Baby, Please Tell Me

25. I'm Gonna Dodge The Blues Just Wait And See

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 3 (1944-1947)

1. Some Day Baby

2. My Love Is Down

3. Watch Shorty

4. Mitzy

5. Trouble In Mind (With Karl Jones)

6. My Last Love (With Karl Jones)

7. Keep What You Got

8. Solid Blues

9. I'm In Love With You

10. Drifting Along Blues

11. How Could You Be So Mean

12. Why I Love You

13. Tell Me Why

14. Rocks In My Bed

15. Blues For Everybody

16. In Love Again

17. Blues In My Soul

18. How Could You

19. Love Is The Answer

20. Don't Blame Her (With Red Nelson)

21. Your Last Time Out

22. You Know I Do

23. Blues For Lonnie

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Lonnie Johnson

1. I Am So Glad

2. What A Woman

3. Tomorrow Night

4. Friendless Blues

5. I Want My Baby

6. What A Real Woman

7. Falling Rain Blues

8. Feeling Low Down

9. Drunk Again

10. Jelly Roll Baker

11. Working Man's Blues

12. Chicago Blues

13. Feel So Lonesome

14. Tell Me Little Woman

15. Backwater Blues

16. Careless Love

17. She's So Sweet

18. Trouble Ain't Nothin' But The Blues

19. Little Rockin' Chair

20. Nothin' Clickin' Chicken

21. Nothing But Trouble

22. Me And My Crazy Self

23. Seven Long Days

24. Just Another Day

25. You Can't Buy Love

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 2 (1926 - 1927)

1. Oh! Doctor The Blues

2. Sweet Woman, See For Yourself

3. To Do This, You Got To Know How

4. South Bound Water

5. Treat 'Em Right

6. Baby, Will You Please Come Home

7. I Done Tole You

8. Steppin' On The Blues

9. A Broken Heart That Never Smiles

16. Four Hands Are Better Than Two

17. Woke Up With The Blues In My Fingers

18. Backwater Blues

19. I Love You, Mary Lou

20. Sweet Woman You Can't Go Wrong

21. Mean Old Bed Bug Blues

22. Lonesome Ghost Blues

24. Roaming Rambler Blues

25. Stay Out Of Walnut Street Alley

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 5 (1929 - 1930)

1. Bull Frog Moan (Feat: Blind Willie Dunn)

2. It Feels So Good - Part 3 (Feat. Spencer Williams)

3. It Feels So Good - Part 4 (Feat. Spencer Williams)

4. You Can't Give A Woman Everything She Needs

5. Sundown Blues

6. From Now On Make Your Whoopee At Home

7. Mr Johnson's Blues No. 2

8. Baby Please Don't Leave Home No More

9. The New Fallin' Rain Blues

10. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now - Part 1 (Feat. Victoria Spivey)

11. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now - Part 2 (Feat. Victoria Spivey)

12. Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp

13. Midnight Call (Blues)

14. Hot Fingers

15. Blue Room Blues

16. She's Making Whoopee In Hell Tonight

17. Another Woman Booked Out And Bound To Go

18. Once Or Twice (Feat. Spencer Williams)

19. Monkey And The Baboon (Feat. Spencer Williams)

20. Wipe It Off (Feat. Spencer Williams)

21. Death Valley Is Just Half Way To My Home

22. Headed For Southland

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 3 (1927 - 1928)

1. St. Louis Cyclone Blues

2. Bedbug Blues - Part 2

3. 6/88 Glide

4. Tin Can Alley Blues

5. Bitin' Fleas Blues

6. Life Saver Blues

7. Blue Ghost Blues

8. Untitled

9. The St. Louis Train Kept Passing By

10. When A Man Is Treated Like A Dog

11. It's Hot - Let It Alone

12. Bearcat Blues

13. Why Should I Grieve After You've Gone

14. Low Land Moan

15. Sweet Potato Blues

16. Kansas City Blues - Part 1

17. Kansas City Blues - Part 2

18. Memphis Stomp

19. Violin Blues

20. Keghouse Blues

21. Shiftin' My Gear Blues

22. Playing With The Strings

23. Stompin' 'Em Along Slow

24. Away Down In The Alley Blues

25. Blues In G

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 4 (1928 - 1929)

1. I'm So Tired Of Living All Alone

2. Way Down That Lonesome Road

3. Crowing Rooster Blues

4. Broken Levee Blues

5. Wrong Woman Blues

12. When You Fall For Someone That's Not Your Own

13. Careless Love

14. Two Tone Stomp

15. Have To Change Keys To Play These Blues

22. Guitar Blues

23. A Handful Of Riffs

24. Blue Guitars

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 6 (1930 - 1931)

1. I Got The Best Jelly Roll In Town - Part 1

2. I Got The Best Jelly Roll In Town - Part 2

3. She Don't Know Who She Wants

4. Don't Drive Me From Your Door

5. The Dirty Dozen (Feat. Spencer Williams)

6. Keep It To Yourself (Feat. Spencer Williams)

7. I Just Can't Stand These Blues

8. Deep Sea Blues

9. The Bull Frog And The Toad (Feat. Spencer Williams)

10. The Monkey And The Baboon - Part 2 (Feat. Spencer Williams)

11. Long Black Train

12. I Have To Do My Time

13. No More Troubles Now

14. Sam, You Can't Do That To Me

15. You're Getting Old On Your Job (Feat. Clara Smith)

16. What Makes You Act Like That? (Feat. Clara Smith)

17. You Had Too Much (Feat. Clara Smith)

18. Don't Wear It Out (Feat. Clara Smith)

19. Got The Blues For Murder Only

20. Let All Married Women Alone

21. Southland Is All Right With Me

22. Blues Is Only A Ghost

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 7 (1931 - 1932)

1. Low Down St. Louis Blues

2. Beautiful But Dumb

3. From A Wash Woman On Up

4. Hell Is A Name For All Sinners

5. Home Wreckers Blues

6. Not The Jump I Use To Be

7. Best Jockey In Town

8. Sleepy Water Blues

9. Uncle Ned, Don't Use Your Head

10. Cat You Been Messin' Aroun'

11. She's Dangerous With That Thing

12. Men, Get Wise To Yourself

13. Sam, You're Just A Rat

14. Winnie The Wailer

15. There Is No Justice

16. I'm Nuts About That Gal

17. Racketeers Blues

18. Unselfish Love

19. My Love Don't Belong To You

20. Love Is A Song (Your Love Is Cold)

21. Go Back To Your No Good Man

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 2 1940 - 1942

1. Get Yourself Together

2. Falling Rain (Live)

3. Rocks In My Bed No. 2 (Live)

4. Secret Emotions (Live)

5. More Rhythm (Live)

6. Crowing Rooster

7. That's Love

8. Somebody's Got To Go

9. Lazy Woman Blues

10. She Ain't Right

11. Chicago Blues

12. I Did All I Could

13. In Love Again

14. From 20 To 44

15. The Last Call

16. Rambler's Blues

17. Lonesome Road

18. Fly Right, Baby

19. Baby, Remember Me

20. The Devil's Woman

21. Heart Of Iron

22. He's A Jelly-Roll Baker

23. When You Feel Low Down

x

Track List: Lonnie Johnson Vol. 1 1937 - 1940

1. Man Killing Broad

2. Hard Times Ain't Gone No Where

3. Flood Water Blues

4. It Ain't What You Usta Be

5. Swing Out Rhythm

6. Got The Blues For The West End

7. Something Fishy

8. I'm Nuts Over You

9. Friendless And Blue

10. Devil's Got The Blues

11. I Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool

12. Mr. Johnson Swing

13. New Falling Rain Blues

14. Laplegged Drunk Again

15. Blue Ghost Blues

16. South Bound Backwater

17. Why Women Go Wrong

18. She's Only A Woman

19. She's My Mary

20. Nothing But A Rat

21. Trust Your Husband

22. Jersey Belle Blues

23. The Loveless Love

24. Four-O-Three Blues

25. Be Careful

26. I'm Just Dumb

27. Don't Be No Fool

x

Track List: Steppin' On The Blues

1. Mr. Johnson Blues

2. Sweet Potato Blues

3. Steppin' On The Blues

4. I Done Told You

5. Mean Old Bedbug Blues

6. Toothache Blues - Part I

7. Toothache Blues - Part II

8. Have To Change Keys (To Play These Blues)

9. Guitar Blues

10. She's Making Whoopee In Hell Tonight

11. Playing With The Strings

12. No More Women Blues

13. Deep Blue Sea Blues

14. No More Troubles Now

15. Got The Blues For Murder Only

16. Untitled

17. 6/88 Glide

18. Racketeer's Blues

19. I'm Nuts About That Gal

x

Track List: The Complete Folkways Recordings

1. Raise The Window High

2. Tears Don't Fall No More

3. Long Road To Travel

4. Old Rocking Chair

5. You Have My Life In Your Hands

6. Lazy Mood

7. Mister Trouble

8. How Deep Is The Ocean

9. Pouring Down Rain

10. Prisoner Of Love

11. Careless Love

12. Juice Headed Baby

13. Teardrops In My Eyes

14. Looking For A Sweetie

15. I've Been A Fool Myself

16. What A Difference A Day Makes

17. That Lonesome Road

18. I Can't Believe

19. When You Always By Yourself

20. My Mother's Eyes

21. Summertime

22. C.C. Rider

23. The Entire Family Was Musicians

24. Falling Rain Blues

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Lonnie was the real Cat who started it all, playing the chords & then picking the licks! They all stole from him!!!!!!!!! !
Report as inappropriate
Lonnie singing Tomorrow Night is perfect. Elvis liked this, too.
Report as inappropriate
Lonnie's playing with Louis Armstrong is really interesting if one gives it the chance of a serious listen.

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