Larry Alonzo Johnson

b. May 15th, 1938 in Wrightsville (Georgia)

d. August 6th, 2016 in Harlem (New York)

PRESENTING THE COUNTRY BLUES

Blue Horizon

Fall 1959

Fils d'un prêcheur, il apprend l'harmonica puis la guitare en écoutant les disques de "Blind Boy" Fuller. Il sert dans la marine entre 1955 et 1959 puis s'installe à New York. Il fait la connaissance des bluesmen de la ville Brownie & Sticks Mac Ghee, Big Joe Williams et surtout Alec Seward qui lui présente le Reverend Gary Davis qui deviendra son professeur, son mentor. Entretemps, Larry grave ce premier album à la fin de l'année 1959 (et non pas en 1966 comme cela a souvent été écrit). Produit par Bobby Robinson à New York, ce disque présente le superbe jeu de guitare tout en finesse du jeune bluesman ainsi que sa voix puissante mais très claire. On retient quelques superbes morceaux comme "Catfish blues", "Southern train", "Southern Carolina boogie", "Trouble in mind", "When things go wrong", "Lovin' machine". En tant qu'harmoniciste, Larry participe aux albums "Blues for nine strings" et "Studio blues" de "Big" Joe Williams en octobre 1961.

Son of a preacher, he learned harmonica and then guitar by listening to "Blind Boy" Fuller's records. He served in the navy between 1955 and 1959 then moved to New York. He meets the bluesmen of the city Brownie & Sticks Mac Ghee, Big Joe Williams and especially Alec Seward who introduces him to the Reverend Gary Davis who will become his professor, his mentor. Meanwhile, Larry records this first album at the end of 1959 (and not in 1966 as it has often been written). Produced by Bobby Robinson in New York, this LP showcases the superb guitar playing all in smoothness of the young bluesman as well as his powerful but very clear voice. We can point out some great songs like "Catfish blues", "Southern train", "Southern Carolina boogie", "Trouble in mind", "When things go wrong", "Lovin' machine". As a harmonica player, Larry participates in the albums "Blues for nine strings" and "Studio blues" by "Big" Joe Williams in october 1961.

THE BLUES : A NEW GENERATION

Prestige

November 1965

Associé à Henry "Hank" Adkins qui chante et joue de la guitare comme lui, Larry délivre un opus sympathique entre Blues et Folk mais qui manque singulièrement de flamme et d'inspiration. Production de Sam Charters pour le label Prestige. A la même époque, il joue de l'harmonica derrière Alec Seward sur son album "Creepin' blues" (chez Prestige également).

Associated with Henry "Hank" Adkins who sings and plays guitar like him, Larry delivers a nice opus between Blues and Folk but which singularly lacks flame and inspiration. Production of Sam Charters for the Prestige label. At the same time, he played harmonica behind Alec Seward on his album "Creepin' blues" (also at Prestige).

FAST AND FUNKY

Blue Goose

Baltimore Blues Society

April 1970

Après avoir accompagné son mentor le Reverend Gary Davis à l'harmonica sur deux albums - "Sun is going down" (1966) et "O Glory" (mars 1969) - Larry peut graver ce nouveau disque grâce à Nick Perls et son label Blue Goose. La qualité sonore est superbe et les interprétations Piedmont Blues sont remarquables : "Charley Stone", "Four women blues", "Up north blues", "My game blues". Peu après cet excellent album, Larry participe à sa première tournée en Europe en 1970.

After accompanying his mentor Reverend Gary Davis on harmonica on two albums - "Sun is going down" (1966) and "O Glory" (march 1969) - Larry can cut this new record thanks to Nick Perls and his Blue Goose label. The sound quality is superb and the Piedmont Blues interpretations are remarkable : "Charley Stone", "Four women blues", "Up north blues", "My game blues". Shortly after this excellent album, Larry participated in his first tour in Europe in 1970.

THESE BLUES IS MEANT TO BE BARRELHOUSED

Blue Goose

April 1970

COUNTRY BLUES

Biograph

MIDNIGHT HOUR BLUES

Biograph

Collectables

February 1971

Cet album présente Larry Johnson associé à John Hammond qui l'accompagne à la slide guitare et à l'harmonica (bien que peu inspiré à l'harmonica). Produit par Arnold Caplin, il s'agit d'un excellent opus de Blues acoustique dans lequel les deux guitaristes se complètent parfaitement. Gravé à New York dans un studio aménagé au domicile d'un fan de jazz Sherman Fairchild. On trouve quelques belles pistes : "Walking blues", "Midnight hour blues", "One room country shack", "Saturday evening blues". Malheureusement, la critique et le public boudèrent cet album.

This album presents Larry Johnson associated with John Hammond who accompanies him on slide guitar and on harmonica (though not very inspired on harmonica). Produced by Arnold Caplin, this is an excellent opus of acoustic Blues in which the two guitarists complement each other perfectly. Engraved in New York in a studio set up in the home of a jazz fan Sherman Fairchild. There are some great tracks : "Walking blues", "Midnight hour blues", "One room country shack", "Saturday evening blues". Unfortunately, critics and the public sulked this album.

THE ALL STAR BLUES WORLD OF MAESTRO WILLIE DIXON

Spivey

August 1973

Les années 70 furent très peu productives pour Larry Johnson. Seul le label Spivey lui permit de graver quelques rares morceaux. Pour une fois dans un contexte électrique, Larry est placé ici en leader du groupe de Willie Dixon pour deux titres plutôt convaincants : "My hoodoo doctor" et "Put it all in there".

The 1970's were very unproductive for Larry Johnson. Only the Spivey label allowed him to record a few rare songs. For once in an electrical context, Larry is placed here as leader of Willie Dixon's backing band for two rather convincing titles : "My hoodoo doctor" and "Put it all in there".

SPIVEY'S BLUES CAVALCADE

Spivey

March 1974

Dans cette anthologie, Larry reprend le standard "Worried life blues". A la même époque, en tant qu'harmoniciste, il joue derrière Charles Walker sur "Blues from the apple".

In this anthology, Larry covers the standard "Worried life blues". At the same time, as a harmonica player, he played behind Charles Walker on "Blues from the apple".

NEW YORK REALLY HAS THE BLUES STARS

Spivey

January 1981

Après plusieurs années de silence discographique, Larry place trois titres dans cette anthologie Spivey dont une belle reprise de "Big boss man" accompagné par un bon groupe (avec notamment l'harmonica de Nat Riddles).

After several years of discographic silence, Larry places three titles in this Spivey anthology including a nice cover of "Big boss man" accompanied by a good backing band (with in particular the harmonica of Nat Riddles).

JOHNSON, WHERE DID YOU GET THAT SOUND ?

L+R

June 1982

De nouveau associé à l'harmoniciste Nat Riddles par le producteur allemand Horst Lippmann. Les deux bluesmen livrent un disque assez ennuyeux manquant d'un peu de flamme.

Again associated with the harmonica player Nat Riddles by the german producer Horst Lippmann. The two bluesmen deliver a rather boring album lacking a little flame.

AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL '83

L+R

Bellaphon

June 1982

On trouve ici un titre issu de la séance précédente, l'instrumental "Confusion".

Here is a title from the previous session, the instrumental "Confusion".

THE DOCTOR'S BASIN' FREE

Spivey

March 1983

AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL LIVE '83

L+R

October 1983

Invité à la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival de 1983, Larry Johnson joue ici deux titres assez quelconques.

Invited to the American Folk Blues Festival 1983 tour, Larry Johnson plays two fairly ordinary titles here.

NATIONAL DOWN HOME BLUES FESTIVAL vol.4 (lp) / vol.2 (cd)

Southland

October 1984

On trouve ici deux titres honorables joués par Larry Johnson lors de ce festival organisé par l'ethnomusicologue George Mitchell.

Here are two honorable titles played by Larry Johnson during this festival organized by ethnomusicologist George Mitchell.

RAILROAD MAN

JSP

1990

Gravé à Londres avec le producteur John Stedman (et son propre label JSP), cet album place Larry à la tête d'un combo électrique. Malheureusement, le disque s'avère peu convaincant et mal produit malgré quelques moments sympathiques.

Engraved in London with producer John Stedman (and his own label JSP), this album places Larry at the head of an electric combo. Unfortunately, the opus is not very convincing and poorly produced despite some nice moments.

GUITAR SHOWDOWN AT THE DUSK 'TIL DOWN BLUES FESTIVAL

Texas Road

September 1996

BLUES FOR HARLEM

Armadillo

June 1999

Premier album pour le label anglais Armadillo, co-produit par Bernie Marsden, Michael Roach et Larry lui-même. Le programme est partagé entre reprises de classiques et ses propres compositions ("Blues for Harlem"). On retient notamment le superbe hommage rendu à son mentor le Reverend Gary Davis et la reprise de quelques uns de ses titres ("Hear the angels singing"). Son jeu de guitare y est éblouissant. A noter également en fin de programme, une intéressante interview de Larry Johnson.

First album for english label Armadillo, co-produced by Bernie Marsden, Michael Roach and Larry himself. The program is divided between classics covers and his own compositions ("Blues for Harlem"). We note in particular the superb tribute paid to his mentor Reverend Gary Davis and the cover of some of his titles ("Hear the angels singing"). His guitar playing is dazzling. Also note at the end of the program, an interesting interview with Larry Johnson.

THE GENTLE SIDE OF LARRY JOHNSON

Stella

June 1999

TWO GUN GREEN

Armadillo

July 2001

Second album pour Armadillo produit cette fois par Kevin Thorpe. Larry est accompagné par un excellent groupe mené par Brian Kramer (on peut mentionner le superbe harmoniciste Mats Qwarfordt). Feeling et inspiration constante durant toute la durée du CD : "Midnight train", "I used to be down", "Two gun green", "Back to the groove" et une remarquable reprise de "Goodnight Irene" de Leadbelly.

Second album for Armadillo produced this time by Kevin Thorpe. Larry is accompanied by an excellent group led by Brian Kramer (we can mention the superb harmonica player Mats Qwarfordt). Feeling and constant inspiration throughout the duration of the CD : "Midnight train", "I used to be down", "Two gun green", "Back to the groove" and a remarkable cover of "Goodnight Irene" by Leadbelly.

MY STORY SHOULD BE TOLD

Zbark

February 2007