b. 10 August 1913, Cedar Creek, Texas, USA. Recorded for the first time at the age of 75, Johnson’s repertoire contains examples from several eras of Texas blues. Unlike Mance Lipscomb (also discovered late in life), whom he remembers seeing in the late 20s, Johnson is not a guitar virtuoso, having spent his working life on farms, playing music for recreation and amusement. One of 14 children in a musical family, he learned to play by watching his uncle, Will Tims. After World War II, he joined up with local musicians Teodar Jackson, Edgar Davis and harmonica player Ammie Deaver, who, like him, played for country suppers and house parties and also in church. Johnson never considered making music to be a real profession and thus escaped the notice of succeeding generations of musicologists. While performing songs learned from records such as John Lee Hooker’s ‘Hobo Blues’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Two Trains Running’, he also essays versions of such Texas stalwarts as ‘Black Gal’, ‘Blues In The Bottle’ and ‘Spend My Money’ (learned from his uncle), as well as songs by Li’l Son Jackson and Frankie Lee Sims. There is a charm to his performances but they reflect the passing of a strong musical tradition rather than its personification.
Share this page