No, not THAT Don Johnson, the erstwhile actor who rose to fame playing a vice cop on a hit TV show in the 1980’s.

This Don Johnson was born in 1925 in Los Angeles, was a trumpeter and was black for starters and while he may have been to Miami once or twice it’s highly doubtful he was busting drug dealers and tooling around in a Ferrari while wearing pastel t-shirts under white sports coats and Ray-Bans while he was there.

Actually, not much more is known about Don Johnson the musician. He was a long-time member of the loose-knit aggregation of musical hot-shots that made up Johnny Otis’s crack band that was featured each night at the Barrelhouse Club in Watts before they made their collective move to records in 1947/48.

He recorded steadily with Otis, backing a wide array of artists over the years, appearing on most of the big hits that came out under Otis’s aegis in that time, and briefly got the chance to step out on his own and record as a bandleader for Specialty Records in 1949. Those sides however never featured Johnson in the spotlight but rather vocalist Smokey Lynn and tenor saxophonist Earl Jackson.

Johnson stuck with Otis throughout the 1950’s but as their recording opportunities diminished in time the trail of Johnson grows cold and now all modern day searches for him bring you back to Miami and a different Don Johnson who didn’t play the trumpet.
DON JOHNSON & HIS BAND DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Specialty 323; March, 1949)
A showpiece for rip-roaring vocalist Smilin’ Smokey Lynn who takes center stage and delivers a knockout performance, aided immeasurably by the tight, focused band led by trumpeter Don Johnson. (8)

(Specialty 323; March, 1949)
Though credited to Johnson, the song’s title and featured centerpiece is saxophonist Earl Jackson who delivers a pretty basic by-the-numbers performance for rock ‘n’ roll at this stage but hardly anything that will stand out in the ever more crowded field. (4)