The Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Society, Inc. Celebrating Hometown Legend, Johnnie Johnson!
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Johnnie Johnson:  Father of Rock 'N Roll
Page 6:  Johnnie is Honored in His Home Town of Fairmont, WV
Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Society, Founded in 2001
Annual Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival, Founded in 2002
Bridge in Fairmont Named in Honor of Johnnie Johnson
Fairmont State Univeristy Awards Doctor of Music Degree to Johnnie
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
Blues Legend to Lead WV Festival
Johnnie Johnson to Receive Doctor of Music Degree
 ·   Johnnie Johnson at Fairmont State College

Blues Legend to Lead WV Festival
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thursday, July 08, 2004

Johnnie Johnson played piano on some of the most inspired, most enduring records of rock 'n' roll's first decade.

And it's all because his saxophonist called in sick on New Year's Eve in 1952.

Johnson brought in a fledgling St. Louis guitarist, Chuck Berry, who'd been playing professionally for only maybe six months, "I asked him to sit in for me that night. And that night lasted many years."

He could tell from start, he says, that Berry was a different breed.

"We were doing standards back in that time, and what Chuck came in there doing, this rock 'n' roll, it was a novelty thing," he says. "There wasn't no black American doing hillbilly music."

No one sounded like Chuck Berry by the time the Johnnie Johnson Trio came to Chess Records in 1955, the same year Berry "motorvated" all the way to No. 5 on the U.S. pop charts with a hillbilly-flavored car-chase song called "Maybellene." It also spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on the R&B charts.

And the hits kept coming, positioning Berry as both the archetypal rock 'n' roll guitarist and the poet laureate of pre-Bob Dylan rock 'n' roll: "Roll Over Beethoven." "School Day." "Rock & Roll Music." "Sweet Little Sixteen." "Johnny B. Goode." "Carol." "Almost Grown." "Back in the U.S.A."

And those were just the hits. The album cuts were often better.

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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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Johnnie Johnson to Perform at Fairmont State College
January 23, 2002

Fairmont native Johnnie Johnson, who has been called the "world's greatest living blues pianist" and "the founding father of rock and roll," will perform Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Colebank Hall on the Fairmont State campus.

The concert, sponsored by Student Government, the School of Fine Arts and the Johnnie Johnson Blues and Jazz Society, is free and open to the public.

Johnson began playing the piano in 1928; he was 4 years old when his parents brought a new piano into their Fairmont home. Taking to it immediately, Johnson seemed to possess an innate mastery of the instrument. By age 9, he was playing jazz tunes by Count Basie, Oscar Peterson and Earl "Fatha" Hines on the local radio station. By the 1950s, he was living in St. Louis where he worked in a factory by day and fronted the Johnnie Johnson Trio, an R & B band, as time allowed.

Right before a big date on New Year's Eve in 1952, Johnson suddenly had to replace his ailing saxophonist, so he called a guitar-playing friend to sit in. His name was Chuck Barry.

Berry's rocking hillbilly style melded with Johnson's jazz-tinged blues and boogie, and rock and roll was the result. Many of Berry's rock and roll classics - including "Sweet Little Sixteen," "School Days" and "Roll over Beethoven," - came about during impromptu rehearsals, when Berry would show up with lyrics and ask Johnson to put some music behind them. "Just me, Chuck and the piano," is how Johnson put it.

Johnson's musical contributions to Berry's songs were essential to their success. The overlooked pianist finally received some long-overdue recognition in the 1985 Chuck Berry film documentary, "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll," where Keith Richards and others talked about the importance of Johnson's piano stylings.

In 2000, Johnson was honored by the Fairmont community. In July, he performed a local concert that attracted the largest audience for any gathering of this kind in recent years. He graciously received the key to the city and July 8, his birthday, was declared Johnnie Johnson Day.

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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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