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Johnnie Johnson

Early rock pioneer Johnnie Johnwon was born in West Virginia in 1924. He taught himself to play piano as a youth. When World War II broke out he moved to Detroit, Michigan, to get a job in the defense plants there. In 1943 he joined the US Marines and played in a Marine "big and" that toured and performed in the Pacific theater. When the war ended he moved to Chicago, and started hanging out in the city's famed blues scene, eventually becoming acquainted with such blues legends as Muddy Waters and Little Milton and even playing with them at times. He then moved to St. Louis, MO, and worked with Albert King. He soon started his own band, the Johnnie Johnson Trio, which played mostly jazz and R&B instead of blues. In 1952 Johnson hired a relatively unknown country/western singer named Chuck Berry to play a New Year's Eve party with the trio. They hit it off almost immediately and collaborated for the next 30 years on some of the most famous rock songs of all time. Johnson would compose the music for a particular song on his piano, and then Berry would adapt it to his guitar and write the lyrics. From that collaboration came such classics as "No Particular Place to Go" and "Roll Over, Beethoven"--in fact, Berry's classic "Johnny B. Good" was written by Berry as a tribute to Johnson. In the 1970s Johnson, wearing of touring, left Berry and worked with a St. Louis group called Sounds of the City. Johnson later took over the group and renamed it The Magnificent Five. He still continued to perform with Berry occasionally, and appeared in a documentary about Berry, Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987). In 1987 he released a solo album, "Blue Hand Johnnie" and four years later came out with "Johnnie B. Bad". Johnnie Johnson died of complications from a liver transplant in St. Louis, MO, on April 13, 2005.

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Jul 8, 1924 In Fairmont, West Virginia, USA
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the series Rock & Roll 1995-09-24
Latest Project:
Series Crossing Jordan 2001-09-24
Known For
Poster of Rock & Roll
Crossing Jordan Unknown 2001-09-24
Rock & Roll Self 2 episodes, 1995 1995-09-24