Best Artist to Die in the Past 12 Months - 2005
Calling Johnnie Johnson a piano player is like calling a 1988 Chateau D'Yquem an alcoholic beverage: accurate but woefully inadequate. The man's left-hand riffs helped to create rock & roll, while Keith freakin' Richards calls Johnson a rock god and Chuck Berry reportedly even named "Johnny B. Goode" after him. It's no exaggeration that Johnson's death will remain the biggest loss in St. Louis musical history until Big Chuck himself passes on. The years we let Johnson drive a bus here in obscurity -- which he was doing at the time Richards raised him up in the 1987 film Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll -- is our shame to carry. We're sorry, Johnnie.