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Original Guitar Wizard

The Original Guitar Wizard

by Lonnie Johnson
Lonnie Johnson was best known for his tonally beautiful guitar playing, but he was also a fine singer and songwriter, and pretty adept on violin, piano, banjo, mandolin, harmonium, and bass as well. Equally at home in the blues or the jazz world (he worked with artists as raw as Texas Alexander and as polished as


Lonnie Johnson was best known for his tonally beautiful guitar playing, but he was also a fine singer and songwriter, and pretty adept on violin, piano, banjo, mandolin, harmonium, and bass as well. Equally at home in the blues or the jazz world (he worked with artists as raw as Texas Alexander and as polished as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington), Johnson's life as a professional musician began in the mid-'20s and stretched all the way into the 1960s, when his career was given an autumnal boost during the folk/blues revival. This four-disc 95-track box from Proper moves chronologically through Johnson's peak years with commercial labels, beginning with his prolific OKeh years, which are covered on the first two discs (highlights include several elegant instrumentals, a particularly fine solo version of W.C. Handy's "Careless Love," and some amazing duets with jazz guitarist Eddie Lang) and conclude on the third disc, the first part of which covers Johnson's last years with the label (he was released from his contract in 1932). After moving to Chicago, Johnson signed with Decca in 1937, and his amazing solo guitar performance called "Swing Out Rhythm" is included here from the Decca stay. In 1939 Johnson moved to RCA Victor's Bluebird imprint, and those sides round out the third disc and begin the fourth. In 1947, having switched from acoustic to electric guitar, Johnson left Bluebird, and after tracking some sides for Moe Asch's Disc label, followed by a brief stay at Aladdin, he began a long association with King. One of his first cuts for the label, "Tomorrow Night," included here, topped the R&B charts for several weeks in 1948 and touched off Johnson's R&B years, which saw the guitarist moving more toward ballads and working increasingly with large horn sections. His association with King ended in 1951, and his final commercial tracks for the label conclude disc four of this set. There are several single-disc releases of Lonnie Johnson's work on the market and casual listeners may well want to start with one of those, since there is a lot of repetition here (none of the musicians from the 1920s and 1930s could have anticipated having multi-disc box sets), but as an extensive overview of Johnson's peak years, The Original Guitar Wizard is a steal at a budget price.

Product Details

Release Date:
Proper Box Uk


Disc 1

  1. Mr. Johnson's Blues
  2. Johnson's Trio Stomp
  3. To Do This You Got to Know How
  4. South Bound Water
  5. I Done Told You
  6. Steppin' on the Blues
  7. Steady Grind
  8. Four Hands Are Better Than Two
  9. Woke Up With the Blues in My Fingers
  10. Backwater Blues
  11. Mean Old Bed Bug Blues
  12. Roaming Ramble Blues
  13. Stay Out of Walnut Street Alley
  14. St. Louis Cyclone Blues
  15. Bedbug Blues, Pt. 2
  16. Garter Snake Blues
  17. 6/88 Glide
  18. Life Saver Blues
  19. I'm Not Rough
  20. Sweet Potato Blues
  21. Hotter Than That
  22. Savoy Blues
  23. Playing With the Strings
  24. Stompin' Em Along Now

Disc 2

  1. Deep Blue Sea Blues
  2. No More Women Blues
  3. I'm So Tired of Living All Alone
  4. Crowing Rooster Blues
  5. Broken Levee Blues
  6. Careless Love
  7. Toothache Blues, Pts. 1-2
  8. Misty Mornin'
  9. Two Tone Stomp
  10. Have to Change Keys to Play These Blues
  11. It Feels So Good, Pts. 1-2
  12. Jet Black Blues
  13. Guitar Blues
  14. Blue Guitars
  15. Bullfrog Moan
  16. Sundown Blues
  17. The New Fallin' Rain Blues
  18. You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now, Pts. 1-2
  19. Hot Fingers
  20. Blue Room
  21. She's Making Whoopee in Hell Tonight
  22. Another Woman Booked Out and Bound to Go

Disc 3

  1. I Got the Best Jelly Roll in Town, Pts. 1-2
  2. The Dirty Dozen
  3. I Just Can't Stand These Blues
  4. Deep Sea Blues
  5. Long Black Train
  6. I Have to Do My Time
  7. No More Troubles Now
  8. You're Getting Old on Your Job
  9. Don't Wear It Out
  10. Got the Blues for Murder Only
  11. Let All Married Women Alone
  12. Beautiful But Dumb
  13. Sleepy Water Blues
  14. Uncle Red, Don't Use Your Head
  15. I'm Nuts About That Gal
  16. Racketeers Blues
  17. Swing Out Rhythm
  18. Why Women Go Wrong
  19. Jersey Belle Blues
  20. The Loveless Blues
  21. I'm Just Dumb
  22. Get Yourself Together
  23. Crowing Rooster Blues

Disc 4

  1. That's Love
  2. Lazy Woman Blues
  3. In Love Again
  4. He's a Jelly Roll Baker
  5. When You Feel Low Down
  6. The Victim of Love
  7. Watch Shorty
  8. Keep What You Got
  9. Love Is the Answer
  10. Tomorrow Night
  11. What a Real Woman
  12. Falling Rain Blues
  13. Working Man's Blues
  14. Playing Around
  15. Trouble Ain't Nothing But the Blues
  16. Blues Stay Away from Me
  17. Little Rockin' Chair
  18. Nothing But Trouble
  19. Why Should I Cry
  20. It Was All in Vain
  21. You Only Want Me When You're Lonely
  22. Me and My Crazy Self
  23. I'm Guilty
  24. Just Another Day
  25. You Can't Buy Love
  26. Can't Sleep Any More

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Lonnie Johnson   Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Violin,Leader,Vocals,Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part
Blind John Davis   Piano
Victoria Spivey   Piano,Vocals
Hoagy Carmichael   Percussion,Vocals
Johnny Dodds   Clarinet
Johnny Hodges   Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
James P. Johnson   Piano
Eddie Lang   Guitar
King Oliver   Cornet
Kid Ory   Trombone
Tommy Smith   Bass
Joe Williams   Bass
Todd Rhodes   Piano
Red Prysock   Tenor Saxophone
Johnny St. Cyr   Banjo
Bubber Miley   Trumpet
Wellman Braud   Bass
Sonny Greer   Drums
Texas Alexander   Vocals
Joshua Altheimer   Piano
Louis Armstrong   Trumpet,Vocals
Lil Armstrong   Piano
Bill Benjamin   Drums
Barney Bigard   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Nelson Burton   Drums
Harry Carney   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Holley Dismukes   Alto Saxophone
Duke Ellington   Piano
Alfred Elkins   Bass
John Erby   Piano
Porter Grainger   Piano
Fred Guy   Banjo
Andrew Harris   Bass
Simeon Hatch   Piano
Charlie Hooks   Trumpet
John Hughes   Piano
Freddie Jenkins   Trumpet
J.C. Johnson   Piano
Ransom Knowling   Bass
Clarence Mack   Bass
Monte Morrison   Bass
Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton   Trombone
Payl Parks   Bass
Deloise Searcy   Piano
Calvin Shields   Drums
Franklin Skeete   Bass
Herman Smith   Piano
Louis Stephens   Tenor Saxophone
Arthur Whetsol   Trumpet
Clarence Williams   Piano,gourd
Spencer Williams   Vocals
Ray Felder   Tenor Saxophone
Clara Smith   Vocals
Jimmy Robinson   Piano
Allen "Grip" Smith   Piano
Willie Wilkins   Piano
Leo Abramson   Drums
Eddie Smith   Tenor Saxophone
Ted Buckner   Baritone Saxophone
James Ivory Johnson   Guitar,Piano
Alex "Charlie Brown" Hill   Piano
John Arnold   Piano
Paul Renfro   Tenor Saxophone

Technical Credits

Lonnie Johnson   Composer
Bessie Smith   Composer
Eddie Lang   Composer
Kid Ory   Composer
W.C. Handy   Composer
Texas Alexander   Composer
Louis Armstrong   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Henry Glover   Composer
Lil Hardin   Composer
Alec Johnson   Composer
Martha E. Koenig   Composer
L. Mann   Composer
Wayne Raney   Composer
Arthur Whetsol   Composer
Spencer Williams   Composer
Alton Delmore   Composer
Sam Coslow   Composer
Joop Visser   Producer,Liner Notes
Will Grosz   Composer

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