of the most beloved musical talents St. Louis
has ever known - Mr. Johnnie Johnson - was paid
homage by a sold out house of fans and a endless
procession of artists awaiting their turn on stage
at the Johnnie Johnson Memorial Concert held at
the Pageant on April 29th, 2005.
Johnnie was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, and
began playing piano at 4. He moved to Chicago
after World War II, where he played jazz and blues
in clubs. He moved to St. Louis in the early 1950s,
forming his own R&B band, the Johnnie Johnson
a band member became ill on New Year's Eve 1952,
Johnson hired Berry to fill in. Fast forward
over 50 years, and it's Chuck Berry headlining
the show that honored his friend.
A 'who's who' of St. Louis Blues talent - over
16 acts - displayed once again that St. Louis
is a world class music town. Kudos to John May
and the St. Louis Blues Society for pulling
this show off in under 10 days - "they
told me I couldn't do it". But do it he
did, and it will go down in STLBlues history
as one of the best Blues concerts ever held
in this town.
Jeff Alexander of Cousin Moe Music was on hand,
along with his newly released CD 'Johnnie
Be Eighty. And Still Bad'. This is the last
recording that has Johnnie on it, a 'must have'
for the serious Johnnie Johnson collector! Here's
review of Johnnie
Be Eighty. And Still Bad!
The evening was emceed by Bernie
Hayes and Papa Ray, the
Soul Selector at KDHX 88.1 FM. Art Holliday
(co-anchor and executive producer of "Today
in St. Louis" morning show and "NewsChannel5
at Noon" at KSDK-TV) was on hand, capturing
the evening for the Johnnie Johnson documentary
he's been working on for over 2 years - we'll
let you know when it's released!
Frances Johnson seemed really pleased to enjoy
the tribute, which showed the love this town
will always have for Johnnie. Seated with Frances
was none other than Mr.
Henry Townsend, at 94 years young the patriarch
of St. Louis Blues!
The music was a dynamic showcase of St. Louis
talent, here's the list of of bands and artists
who donated their time for this momentous event.......
Silvercloud • Ron
Edwards • Oliver Johnson • Larry
Thurston and the Soulard Blues Band •
The Johnnie Johnson Band •
Butch Wax and the Hollywoods
• Jimmy Lee Kennett Band • Rich
McDonough Band • Uvee Hayes • JR
Reed • Billy Peek • Erma Whiteside
• Kelley Hunt • Kim Massie •
Marsha Evans • Bennie Smith • Stacey
Johnson • Chuck Berry
The bands were inspired by the occasion, undoubtedly
sharing the feeling that Johnnie was watching
from above, smiling down with pride and satisfaction
in the love he inspired, and the legacy he left
behind. Visit our tribute
page to the legend of Mr. Johnnie Johnson!
Here's a look back on a very special moment
in St. Louis Blues music, the Johnnie Johnson