Bye, Bye Johnnie
April 13, 2005 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Rock and roll pioneer Johnnie Johnson died today. Chuck Berry wrote "Johnny B. Goode" in tribute to Johnson. Johnson composed many of Chuck Berry's greatest songs on the piano. Berry then adapted them for guitar and wrote the lyrics.
posted by fixedgear (16 comments total)
posted by jonmc at 1:50 PM on April 13, 2005

You can find articles about the man and an annotated discography at Johnnie's official site . I discovered his influence on rock in reverse - I first knew of him as a friend of NRBQ and Keith Richards and then learned about his role in shaping rock and roll. I recommend Johnnie B. Bad to anyone wanting delve into his solo records.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:02 PM on April 13, 2005

Shit. No wonder the local radio was pre-empting the normal styles of music to play his stuff.
posted by notsnot at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2005

Also, rent a copy of "Hail, Hail, Rock n' Roll" to see the genius behind Chuck Berry. Sorry to hear this...
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2005

A good rental would be "Hail Hail Rock N Roll", a doc spotlighting Berry's 60th birthday. In one scene Richards explains how Johnnie was probably responsible for more of Chuck Berry's success than (at that time - '87) most people knew.

Richards explained how the chords for Berry's biggest hits were bar chords on guitar but easy chords on piano, speculating that they were written on piano and not guitar.

Johnson eventually sued Berry in early 2000 for his share of the royalties but the judge concluded that too much time had passed therefore Berry owed Johnson zip. (more here)
posted by tsarfan at 2:21 PM on April 13, 2005

Damn. A good guy, worked sound for him a few times.

posted by eriko at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2005

"Let It Rock" is one of the few numbers where Johnnie's piano dominates over Chuck's guitar. It's a great example for the uninitiated of how important he was to the Chuck Berry sound and thus to all rock and roll.
posted by jonmc at 4:33 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by lilboo at 5:13 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by Faint of Butt at 6:50 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by jlkr at 7:34 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by nola at 12:21 AM on April 14, 2005

If Chuck is the father of rock n' roll Johnnie was the grandfather. And his musical contributions aside, he was just a sweet low-key unassuming guy which made me like him even more. RIP.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:14 AM on April 14, 2005

posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 6:03 AM on April 14, 2005


But I thought Chuck Berry first heard Johnny B. Goode on a phone call from his brother Marvin.
posted by schustafa at 6:38 AM on April 14, 2005


(and Marvin was his cousin.)
posted by bashos_frog at 2:29 PM on April 14, 2005

Rock: It's not just your great great grandaddy's music.

Props to a original.
posted by HTuttle at 6:45 PM on April 14, 2005

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