Johnny Barfield

b. John Alexander Barfield, 3 March 1909, Tifton, Georgia, USA, d. 16 January 1974. The son of a cotton farmer, Barfield learned guitar and first sang around the Columbus area with his brother, Coot.…
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Artist Biography

b. John Alexander Barfield, 3 March 1909, Tifton, Georgia, USA, d. 16 January 1974. The son of a cotton farmer, Barfield learned guitar and first sang around the Columbus area with his brother, Coot. They recorded for Columbia Records but in the early 30s, after becoming friendly with fiddler Bert Lane, he joined the Skillet Lickers at WCKY Covington, Kentucky. In 1936, he played on WGST Atlanta but in the late 30s, back in Columbus, he played on WRLB and at dancehalls with his band, as well as frequently appearing with his great friend, Rex Griffin. Between 1939 and 1941, he recorded for Bluebird Records and ‘Boogie Woogie’, his best-known number, has seemingly given him the distinction of being the first artist to use that phrase on a recording. In 1942, he enlisted for the army and finished the war in a German prison camp. After release, he returned to Columbus and relaunched his singing career. He played local residencies and toured with several major artists, including Bill Monroe and Griffin. He declined the chance to join the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, as he wanted to stay in his local area. Around 1958, he made further recordings for his own JB label but his main recording success was in Australia, where his Bluebird tracks had proved so popular that reissues were released in the 80s. Barfield remained active in the Columbus area, although forgotten in many others, almost until his death in 1974.