Monday, January 02, 2006

Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Has Gone Home

Popular music wouldn’t have played out the same way without the contribution of Johnnie Johnson. Many rock historians insist that Chuck Berry's pianist had an incalculable influence on Berry. I believe that Berry’s genius was so overwhelming that all those great songs would have been written even without Johnson's influence, but that the "roll" in Berry's rock, and consequently, the very heart of a new music, would have suffered. It's as if the traditional performances of Johnson and bassist Willie Dixon are battling Berry's modernity on this 1955 blues.

I'm tempted to continue memorializing the fallen of 2005- I have yet to write about Luther Vandross and Willie Hutch, for instance- but it’s getting ghoulish, and I’m eager to get back to the living. This is the last post of the series.

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