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Woodrow Wilson Johnson

Woodrow Buddy Johnson
Buddy Johnson

Bandleader, Composer

(1915 - 1977)

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Buddy Johnson began studying piano at the age of four, and, although he would make his name leading a jump blues band and hitting the R&B charts, he maintained a lifelong interest in classical music. He played piano with several dance bands and toured with the Cotton Club Revue before forming his own band in 1941, performing at the Savoy Ballroom and touring the country playing “one-nighters.” His sister Ella Johnson was his principle vocalist and enjoyed an early hit with “Please Mr. Johnson.” Arthur Prysock sang with the band while he was still a teenager, and Buddy gave Etta Jones her start.

The Johnson aggregation maintained its popularity throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s with hits that were all introduced by sister Ella: the wartime song “When My Man Comes Home” (1942); “Fine Brown Frame” (1946) which was a hit for blues singer Nellie Lutcher; and “Since I Fell for You” (1948, words and music by Buddy), which was a favorite of Nina Simone. Johnson also wrote a popular dance number “Walk ‘Em” and a tribute to the famous baseball player who broke the color barrier in the major leagues, “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” (1949), a song recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra.

Etta Jones, who sang with the band in 1944, recorded a tribute to Johnson in 1998 entitled My Buddy: Songs of Buddy Johnson, which was nominated for a Grammy as Best Jazz Vocal Performance.

- Sandra Burlingame

Walk 'em: Decca Sessions

Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra

Rockin' n' Rollin' Featuring Ella Johnson

Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra, Ella Johnson

Hurry on Down

Nellie Lutcher

Since I Fell for You

Charles Brown

The Soul of Nina Simone

Nina Simone

The Band That Swings the Blues

Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra

My Buddy: Songs of Buddy Johnson

Etta Jones


Buddy Johnson & His Band


Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price

Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Johnson, Roy Milton & His Solid Senders, Lionel Hampton, Louis Jordan, Lucky Millinder, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway

Roots of Rhythm: Leader of the Band (Roots of Rhythm Series)

International Masters Publishers

Cole Porter; Henley and Frey; Buddy Johnson

Sheet Music Magazine November 1978 Standard Edition

Edward Shanaphy

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