By Joseph Hess
By Joseph Hess
By Allison Babka
By Gina Tron
By Kelsey McClure
By Roy Kasten
By RFT Staff
By Oakland L. Childers
A copy of Father of Rock & Roll was unavailable at press time, but Johnson and Fitzpatrick relate examples of little-known facts about Johnnie's career included in the book.
"When Chuck and I went out on our first tour after "Maybellene,' we played in a big cavalcade tour in Cleveland that was headlined by Tony Bennett," Johnson recalls. "One of the nights we played was the very night that Alan Freed, a disc jockey in Cleveland and host of the show, came up with the name "rock & roll.' We were backstage, and he was saying, "Man, just look at those kids out there rocking and rolling to the music.' Then he snapped his fingers and said to us, "That's a good name for this music!' And that's what he started calling it from then on."
"I think one thing that's really interesting in the book is how much influence Johnnie had on the music of Albert King," volunteers Fitzpatrick. "Not many people know it, but when we interviewed musicians like Kenny Rice, who played on sessions with Albert and Johnnie, they told us Johnnie contributed a lot to the sound of "Born Under a Bad Sign' and especially "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong.'"
"I'm looking forward for the chance to play with Johnnie," says Hammond, told that a grand piano will be at Johnson's disposal at the Saturday-night Sheldon event. "However many tunes he wants to do with me at the Sheldon, you know I'll be ready. I can't wait to see how it all turns out."
Another well-known musician who has worked with Johnson, Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, is unable to attend the Sheldon concert because of other commitments; Weir praised Johnson in a recent e-mail: "I've been way more than lucky to play with great musicians Jerry Garcia was no slouch but playing with Johnnie Johnson has been one of my life's blessings. After all, I've been playing rock & roll for 30 years, and then I got Johnny B. Goode his ownself for my band. Whew. The bonus was finding out that he was a lovely man as well as a great player. Happy birthday, Johnnie. I'm sorry I can't make it there, but I trust you'll have a good time so just go be good."
Johnnie Johnson performs in celebration of his 75th birthday at various locations around town this week, with a grand finale at the Sheldon Concert Hall on Saturday, July 10.