“ Johnnie Be Eighty and Still Bad!”
"I like to think that blues lovers are a little more knowledgeable about music than the average person. I like to think blues lovers know and care more about real music, and the history of American Music, especially American Music in fairly contemporary times. So I tend to think that most members of blues societies know a lot about Johnnie Johnson. So I am going to skip the history lesson, skip all the things I could say about the role Johnnie played in the development of Rock and Roll, and his career in the blues. And I will skip all the things I could say about Johnnie being one of the greatest and most original musicians of our time. I will say that Johnnie Johnson was as great a man as he was a musician. And will tell you that I was privileged to get to know Johnnie well in a small portion of time that seemed to encapsule a wide slice of life, and that I can say knowing Johnnie Johnson has made me a better person.
Last winter, Johnnie and his wife granted me the opportunity to produce a Johnnie Johnson recording. When I proposed it, and my concept, they said let’s go, let’s go now.
I had been writing songs for Johnnie and with Johnnie in mind. Rich McDonough, Johnnie and myself collaborated on em, and we cut the music live in the studio. Recording took place in November and December of last year.
My intent was to capture the essence of Johnnie’s sound. And to me, Johnnie Johnson is all about real music, live music, spontaneity and communication of emotion. His blues is the real old deal blues, and his rock and roll is the rockingest, rollingest there is, built on a solid foundation of gospel, blues,etc., Then there is that unique Johnnie Johnson sound, with that same base, but with jazz, stride piano, and swing mixed in. A sound unequaled in originality and breadth. Each style is represented, every song indelibly pure Johnnie Johnson. And it is all blues. Even the rock and roll songs are pure blues, but you blues people will know that.
At the present time, “Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad!” is on my label, Cousin Moe Music. Johnnie loved the project. He was eager to have it. Getting a label deal is a lengthy process, even for a Johnnie Johnson project. I love Johnnie, always will, and it was important to me to complete this project for him. So much of the meaning in this project to me is that Johnnie wanted to do it with me, enjoyed it, loved listening to it, and was proud of it. I was not about to make Johnnie wait, so went ahead and completed it on my own label, as quickly as I could and still make a project that represents the class and elegance of Johnnie Johnson.
The manufactured cd actually arrived from the factory on April 12th. I was in NY at the time, but called Johnnie and told him I had the first shipment,
was overnighting him some cds, and that I would be back home in St Louis real quickly. We planned to hit the local radio stations the next week. Johnnie sounded great and happy. As usual, he was considerate of me. Told me to slow down, rest up, and be careful getting back.. As you know, the next morning, April 13th, Johnnie passed peacefully and beautifully.
“Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad!” is Johnnie’s Johnson last musical statement. It is a personal project for Johnnie, I wrote “Beach Weather” about his life, and “Lucky Four” about the great love between he and Frances, his fourth wife. This project is just one of the many gifts Johnnie gave to this world. Johnnie was giving right up till his last breath.
“Johnnie Be Eighty. And Still Bad!” is available at www.cousinmoemusic.com. Photos and info about the project are there as well. It is also available at http://cdbaby.com/cd/johnniejohnson , or at
Johnnie played his heart on this project. It is there to be heard."
Cousin Moe Music