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Johnnie Johnson:  Father of Rock 'N Roll
Page 4:  Johnnie's Many Awards, Honors, & Certificates
Johnnie Johnson is Recognized for his Contributions to Rock 'N Roll!
Page 1:  A Brief Biography. The Life of Johnnie Johnson  ·  Page 2:  Johnnie’s Official Biography, by Travis Fitzpatrick
Page 3:  Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame Induction, March 2001  ·   Page 4:  Johnnie’s Many Awards, Honors, & Certificates
Page 5:  Interviews with the Legendary Johnnie Johnson  ·   Page 6:  Johnnie is Honored in his Hometown of Fairmont

2004 Beacon in Jazz Award  ·   Star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame

Johnnie's Contributions to Rock 'N Roll  ·   Johnnie Johnson to Receive Doctor of Music Degree
Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
 ·   Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame Honors Legends

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July 4, 2004
Elvis may have been the king, but was he first?
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Johnnie's contributions to the Rock 'N Roll are discussed in this article.

*Johnnie Johnson is quoted for this article, which describes the roots of Rock 'N Roll.

It was 50 years ago tomorrow, the Fifth of July, that a young Elvis Presley, a truck-driving R&B scholar from Tupelo, Miss., took his first step down the road to being crowned the king of rock 'n' roll in his first night of sessions at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service.


Johnnie Johnson, who played piano on Chuck Berry's greatest hits, was on a Freed bill at the Paramount the first time he heard anybody mention rock 'n' roll. It was the night his bandmate introduced his legendary duck walk to the stage show.

"The kids were just having a ball," he says. "And Alan Freed said, 'Well, look at 'em rockin' and rollin'." And right in the middle of his statement, he said, 'Hey, why don't we call this music rock 'n' roll music?' And that to me, was the birth of rock 'n' roll music."

Or if not the birth, the naming.


Dec. 31, 1952 -- When Johnnie Johnson's saxophonist calls in sick on New Year's Eve, he hires a fill-in guitarist, Chuck Berry, a reform-school graduate who could play the guitar just like a-ringin' a bell. With Johnson on piano, Berry would emerge with "Too Much Monkey Business," "Maybellene" and other three-chord treasures as the poet laureate of pre-Bob

Read the full article:

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February 2, 2004
New School University Jazz Announces
the 2004 Beacons in Jazz Awards, New York City

Ahmet Ertegun, Aretha Franklin, Percy Heath, and Johnnie Johnson
to be honored at Benefit Evening on Tuesday, March 30, 2004.

(New York, NY – February 2, 2004) New School University's Jazz & Contemporary Music Program will honor music visionary and co-founder of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun; queen of American pop, soul and R & B, Aretha Franklin; co-founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Percy Heath; and legendary blues and rock pianist, Johnnie Johnson at the 2004 Beacons in Jazz award benefit on Tuesday, March 30, 2004. The Beacons in Jazz awards gala raises scholarship money for promising students earning their Bachelor's degrees from the Jazz Program.

Johnnie Johnson, known as the "Father of Rock & Roll Piano," has been performing for 67 of his 75 years. His album, "Johnnie B. Bad," was produced by Keith Richards, and was backed up by fan such as NRBQ and Eric Clapton. His second CD, "Johnnie B. Back," was produced by NBC Late Night with guitarist Jimmy Vivino, and accompanying the Johnnie Johnson band are album guests Buddy Guy, Al Kooper, John Sebastian, Phoebe Snow, Max Weinberg, and Steve Jordan.
*Read the Full Article

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May 3, 2002
Father of Rock and Roll, Johnnie Johnson,
To Receive Degree From Fairmont State College

Press Release from the Johnnie Johnson
Blues & Jazz Society, Inc., May 3, 2002

Johnnie Johnson, who has been recognized by the United States Congress as the Father of Rock and Roll and a National Treasure, will receive the degree Doctor of Music from Fairmont State College. Johnson will be awarded the degree at the annual commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday May 11, 2002 at 10 a.m.

Johnson who was born in Fairmont in 1924 began playing piano at the age of 5 on a second hand piano his mother had brought into the home as a decoration. Johnson’s mother claimed that his talent was a gift from God, as he had received no formal lessons on the piano. Johnnie developed his unique style by listening to the radio and the popular recordings of the day.

Johnson enlisted in the Marines at the height of World War II and became one of the first 1,500 African-Americans in that branch of the service. Johnson played with an elite group, the Barracudas, that featured members of Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Glenn Miller’s bands.

In 1952 Johnson formed the Sir John’s Trio and hired a fledgling guitarist, Chuck Berry. Over the next 20 to 30 years in collaboration the duo created songs that help to forge a new musical style that changed the face of music. Johnson and Berry collaborated on “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Wee Wee Hours,” among many others. Berry wrote the song “Johnny Be Goode” as a tribute to Johnson.

Johnson has released six solo albums and has recorded with John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, among many others and is recognized as the world’s greatest blues pianist. Johnson served as FSC’s Artist in Residence for 2002.

State Senator Lloyd G. Jackson II D-Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Wayne, will also receive a degree from Fairmont State College on Saturday May 11. Sen. Jackson will receive the degree Doctor of Laws because he has provided a vision for improvement of education in West Virginia, both in the public schools and in higher education.

“Fairmont State is pleased to honor these two gentlemen who have contributed so much to our society,” says FSC President Daniel J. Bradley. “They have each shown a commitment to excellence and innovation, and are deserving of this special recognition.”

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March 19, 2001:  Johnnie Johnson is Inducted
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Johnnie Johnson's Page on the Rock 'N Roll
Hall of Fame Web Site

Visit Johnnie Johnson's Page on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Web Site Visit Johnnie Johnson's Page on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Web Site
It took place at the sixteenth annual induction dinner.
Keith Richard was his presenter. Johnnie Johnson was born July 8, 1924.

Article From The Chicago-Tribune: February 9, 2001
Johnnie Johnson enters Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame.pdf

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December 13, 2000
Johnnie Gets Inducted
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Honors Legends

December 13, 2000. (Yahoo/Hoopla Media) – 11 new inductees to the Cleveland-based hall of fame were announced in a live presentation Tuesday morning. The induction ceremony, featuring the traditional all-star jam session, will take place March 19 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

Pianist/composer Johnnie Johnson is among the 2001 inductees in the "Side-Man" category. As Chuck Berry's bandleader and writing partner for almost 40 years, Johnson has been championed as the true father of rock 'n' roll by Hall of Famers Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Bob Weir. Criteria considered for induction into this 1999 established category includes the influence and significance of the musician's contribution to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

"This is the best Christmas present I could have gotten," enthused Johnson, 76, who is widely recognized as the best blues pianist in the world today. "I'm so happy I could burst. They (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation) didn't know where to put me for a while. Even though I made up the music to a lot of Chuck's songs, my name wasn't on the records, so I guess because of their rules they couldn't put me in with Chuck. But thanks to all the people who supported me, they came up with this "Side-Man" category last year, and now all of us who weren't famous have a place to go. I'm very thankful for that."

For Johnson and his many supporters, this day has been a long time coming. Since 1995, Johnson has been the subject of an intense and unprecedented campaign by Houston businessman George Turek, who publicly urged the voting members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee to induct Johnson. It is believed that Turek's efforts in part led to the Foundation creating its "Side-Man" category last year. "Johnnie changed the course of music history. I'm ecstatic for him and his family," remarked Turek.

*Read the Full Article

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September 2000:  Johnnie Johnson Receives the Prestigious
Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation

Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards

The Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s 11th annual Pioneer Awards, held in New York City in early September, honored pianists Johnnie Johnson and Huey "Piano" Smith, composer/producer Clyde Otis, singers Sylvia Robinson and Betty Wright, and singing groups the Chi-Lites and the Impressions. Stevie Wonder was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Second Annual Legacy Tribute Award went to Marvin Gaye.

Rhythm & Blues Foundation Home Page  ·  About the Rhythm & Blues Foundation
Pioneer Award Honorees Page

The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is an independent non-profit service organization with a worldwide reputation for meeting the needs of former rhythm and blues artists.

A year round endeavor, The Rhythm and Blues Foundation produces the popular Annual Pioneer Awards and administers significant medical and financial assistance endowments including The Motown/Universal Music Group Fund, Gwendolyn B. Gordy Fuqua Fund and The Doc Pomus Financial Assistance Program.

The Rhythm and Blues Foundation had its beginnings in 1987 during discussions about royalty issues between entertainer Ruth Brown, prominent entertainment attorney Howell Begle, and the head of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun. Recognizing the needs of the artists who brought the rhythm and blues art form into prominence, Mr. Ertegun provided a $1.5 million donation and the Foundation was born. The Rhythm and Blues Foundation was established in 1988 to promote recognition, financial support, educational outreach and historic and cultural preservation of rhythm and blues music through various grants and programs in support of R&B and Motown artists from the 1940s through the 1970s.

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September 1999, Johnnie Receives a Congressional Citation

USA, Proceedings and Debates of the 106th Congress, First Session
House of Representatives, Honoring Piano Legend, Johnnie Johnson
Hon. John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan in the House of Representatives

Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus to honor one of the most influential musicians in American history, Mr. Johnnie Clyde Johnson.

Johnnie was born the sun of a coal miner in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 8, 1924. He began playing the piano at the age of 5, on a second-hand upright his mother had purchased as a decoration. Unable to afford lessons, Johnnie practiced and absorbed the sounds of big band jazz and swing, barrelhouse boogie and country western that he heard on the radio. His heroes were the piano players: Count Basie, Art Tatum, Earl Hines, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis. Johnnie studied each man's repertoire, mixing and matching until he found his own unique style.

In 1943, with the War in full tilt, Johnnie enlisted in the Marines and became one of the first 1,500 black soldiers in this branch of service. He later had an opportunity to join the company band- The Barracudas-an elite group made up of some of the finest jazz musicians in the world, including members of Count Basie's, Lionel Hampton's and Glenn Miller's bands. It was a dream come true to play alongside his radio idols at U.S.O. shows, and by the time he returned home in 1941, Johnnie had decided to make music his life.

Over the next few years, Johnnie honed his craft studying under the masters. After hearing T-Bone Walker in a Detroit club, he decided to move to Chicago, where the post-War blues scene was at it's height. Befriending and sitting in with legends like Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim and Little Walter sharpened Johnnie's skills. When he finally settled down in St. Louis in March of 1952, he formed a band-The Johnnie Johnson Trio-and soon thereafter procured a regular gig at one of the biggest night spots in town-the Cosmopolitan Club.

Then fate stepped in. On New Year's Eve of 1952, Johnnie's saxophonist fell ill and was unable to make the show. Desperate for a replacement, Johnnie hired a fledgling guitarist named Chuck Berry to fill in for the night. Although he had only been playing professionally for six months, Berry had a gift for performance and a way with words that caught the attention of audiences. Johnnie decided to keep him on as a singer/guitarist, and for the next two years, The Johnnie Johnson Trio rocked the Cosmopolitan every weekend.

In 1955, while still performing as The Johnnie Johnson Trio, Johnnie, Chuck Berry and Ebby Hardy traveled to Chicago and, along with Chess studio stalwart Willie Dixon, recorded "Maybellene" for Chess Records. The record was a hit and quickly reached number five on the charts. It was then that Berry approached his partner about taking over the band. Confident of Berry's business acumen, and yearning simply to ply his craft- the piano-Johnnie entrusted Berry with his band. And so it was that Johnnie became the silent partner in the first writing/performing team in the history of rock and roll. Together. with Johnnie's musical inspiration and Berry's gift of poetry., they collaborated over the course of the next 20 yeans to create the songs that defined the genre, including "Roll Over Beethoven," "School Days," "Back in the U.S.A.," "Rock and Roll Music" and "Sweet Little Sixteen" among many, many others. In fact, the song that may be considered the "national anthem" of rock and roll-"Johnny B. Goode"-was a tribute written by Berry to his musical partner and collaborator-Johnnie Johnson.

Johnnie and Berry performed and recorded together through the 1970s. However, as Berry's popularity grew, and he began traveling internationally, Johnnie elected to stay home in St. Louis. During this time, Johnnie also recorded with the legendary Albert King, for whom he contributed a great number of musical arrangements. But through it all-the birth of rock and roll with Chuck Berry and the inspired recordings with Albert King, Johnnie toiled largely unrecognized by the public.

That is, until 1986, when Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards sought out Johnnie for the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. Richards observed that many of Chuck Berry's songs were written in piano keys and that without Johnnie's melodies, the most influential songs in rock and roll history would be "just a lot of words on paper." Moreover, Johnnie's performance during the film left no doubts as to his unequaled prowess at the keyboard.

Since the film, Johnnie has begun to receive the public acclaim he so justly deserves. Widely recognized by the industry as the world's great living blues pianist, he has released six solo albums and contribUted his considerable talent to recordings by John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley and the late Jimmy Rogers.

Johnnie Johnson has suffered for his art. Yet, through it all, he has never lost the gentle, self-effacing demeanor that causes everyone he meets to love him. He has no bitterness, no regrets. Equally at home playing in front of thousands, or in a tiny club with a local band, Johnnie plays for the sake of playing. "All I want to do is play my piano," he says. "I'm just glad that I have the chance to make people happy."

I am honored, Mr. Speaker, to present to the 106th Congress, a man who has never lost touch with what it means to be a musician:  the Father of Rock and Roll, Mr. Johnnie Johnson.

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May 17, 1998
Johnnie Gets a Star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame
the 2004 Beacons in Jazz Awards, New York City

Foreword by Joe Edwards, Founder of the St. Louis Walk of Fame

The St. Louis Walk of Fame is a non-profit organization founded in 1988 to provide a showcase for the cultural heritage of St. Louis and to advance the knowledge, awareness and appreciation of great St. Louisans and their accomplishments. The Walk of Fame itself consists of sets of brass stars and bronze plaques honoring individuals from the St. Louis area who made major national contributions to our cultural heritage. Each star features the name of an honoree; an accompanying plaque contains a brief biographical summary.... The stars and plaques are permanently set into the sidewalks of the University City Loop, centrally located in the St. Louis area. The Walk of Fame is free of charge, open all year and easily accessible for all to enjoy.

Introduction From the Walk of Fame Book

Joe Edwards, proprietor of the Rock ‘n Roll restaurant and pub called Blueberry Hill, conceived the St. Louis Walk of Fame as a way not only of commemorating St. Louis’ many contributions to art and literature, music and science, athletics and entertainment, journalism and politics, but also as a way of adding some further enrichment to one of the country’s most unusual stretches of urban thoroughfare. Thus since 1989 the Walk of Fame has paid simultaneous tribute to men and women of distinction, to a great metropolitan community and to the street where small business people earn their livings in their own ways.  *Read More!

Showcase of the cultural heritage of St. Louis

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Additional Honors & Awards Received by Johnnie Johnson

Inducted into the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame
*Webmaster's Note:  I could not locate any information online regarding these awards. If anyone out there knows of some web sites with good information, please e-mail me with the links!
Thank you for your help!
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Page 1:  A Brief Biography. The Life of Johnnie Johnson  ·  Page 2:  Johnnie’s Official Biography, by Travis Fitzpatrick
Page 3:  Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame Induction, March 2001  ·   Page 4:  Johnnie’s Many Awards, Honors, & Certificates
Page 5:  Interviews with the Legendary Johnnie Johnson  ·   Page 6:  Johnnie is Honored in his Hometown of Fairmont


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