New Orleans vocalist who sang with Dave Bartholomew’s band on stage at the end of the 1940’s, primarily taking the pop styled ballads they had in their repertoire to satisfy the demand for that kind of material in classier clubs.

Though Johnson never got the opportunity to sing on Bartholomew’s records he did wind up getting a release of his own on Mercury Records when they came to town in a brief attempt to move in on the New Orleans rock scene and while his own efforts were somewhat far removed from the dominant rock styles of the day, they probably are a good indication of what he was doing on stage, as Bartholomew wrote one of the cuts and played trumpet behind him on the session.

Johnson fared much better however on two uncredited vocals for the ensemble credited to bassist George Miller, as his singing acted as the loose framework for extended instrumental jams and showed he really should’ve pursued that style more as he did have a nice tenor voice and a good sense of rhythm on uptempo songs, rather than the stilted baritone he used on ballads. Instead, late in 1949 when Bartholomew got hired by Imperial Records and recruited vocalists as well as producing them he didn’t bring Johnson in, ending their working relationship altogether when the first of his signees, Tommy Ridgley, took over Johnson’s spot in the band, as Dave felt Ridgley was more effective as an uptempo rocker and could handle the slower pop material just as well as Johnson, who subsequently faded into obscurity without a record deal or a well-known band with which to appear in clubs.

THEARD JOHNSON DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Mercury 8179; May, 1950)
A dreadful record with an overly starched arrangement topped by Johnson’s pretentious vocals that are artificially melodramatic in an attempt to sound noble and dignified but which comes across as merely inept posturing. (1)

(Mercury 8183; May, 1950)
As uncredited vocalist for… George Miller & His Mid-Driffs. Johnson uses a much more natural breathy tenor which sounds genuinely enthused as it sets the scene and rides the rhythm with surprising natural ease. (8)

(Mercury 8183; May, 1950)
As uncredited vocalist for… George Miller & His Mid-Driffs. Again Johnson is asked merely to frame the song’s instrumental solos with descriptive vocals that introduce the participants to listeners. (4)