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Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson

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Biography

Of the three blues guitarists answering to the name of Luther Johnson, this West Side-styled veteran is probably the best known. Adding to the general confusion surrounding the triumvirate, like Luther "Snake Boy" Johnson, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson spent a lengthy stint in the top-seeded band of Muddy Waters (1972-1979). Gospel and blues intersected in young Luther Johnson's life while he was still in Mississippi. But after he moved to Chicago in the mid-'50s, blues was his main passion, working with Ray Scott and Tall Milton Shelton before taking over the latter's combo in 1962. Magic Sam was a major stylistic inspiration to Johnson during the mid-'60s (Johnson spent a couple of years in Sam's band). The West Side approach remained integral to Johnson's sound, even after he moved to the Boston area during the early '80s. Johnson's 1976 debut album, Luther's Blues, was cut during a European tour with Muddy Waters. By 1980, he was on his own, recording with the Nighthawks as well as four tracks on Alligator's second series of Living Chicago Blues anthologies. With his own band, the Magic Rockers, and the Roomful of Blues horn section, Johnson released Doin' the Sugar Too on Rooster Blues in 1984. In the early '90s, Johnson was signed to Ron Levy's Bullseye Blues logo; his three albums for the firm were sizzling, soul-tinged blues with a strong West Side flavor often slicing through. He subsequently recorded a series of albums for the Telarc label, including Slammin’ on the West Side (1996), Got to Find a Way (1998), and Talkin’ About Soul (2001). ~ Bill Dahl

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Born:

15 July 1939 in Itta Bena, MS

Genre
Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Influencers

Contemporaries