Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Lonnie Johnson: The Unsung Blues Legend

Guitar pioneer Lonnie Johnson cut classic tracks in the Roaring ’20s with the likes of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and Eddie Lang before turning to the blues in the 1930s. The Unsung Blues Legend (Blues Magnet 1001; 56:29) is a rarity in Johnson’s lengthy discography. A home recording made in 1965 at the Queens home of lucky fan Bernie Strassberg, it features Johnson accompanying himself on guitar while seamlessly stringing together plaintive, heartfelt renditions of everything from Kurt Weill’s “September Song” to Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” to Gershwin’s “Summertime,” Bessie Smith’s “Back Water Blues” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin’ Chair.” A fascinating document and revealing look at this fabulous interpreter of classic melodies.

Originally Published