Johnny Jenkins

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Johnny Edward Jenkins (March 5, 1939 – June 26, 2006) was an American left-handed blues guitarist, who helped launch the career of Otis Redding. His flamboyant style of guitar playing also influenced Jimi Hendrix, who would later use some of Jenkins's tricks in his stage show.[citation needed]


In the 1960s Jenkins was the leader of the Pinetoppers, who employed a young Otis Redding as singer. As Jenkins did not possess a driver's license of his own, the young Redding also served as his personal driver. During a recording session in 1962 organized by the band's manager Phil Walden, Jenkins left forty minutes of studio time unused. Redding used this time to record a ballad entitled "These Arms of Mine" on which Jenkins played guitar. In 1964 Jenkins released an instrumental single called "Spunky." (Volt V-122) In a biography of Otis Redding written by Scott Freeman, there are several accounts of this day at STAX. One such account is that Johnny wasn't meshing well with the band, so the session was cut short, thus leaving time for Otis to record.

With Phil Walden concentrating on Redding's flourishing career, Jenkins was sidelined and it was not until after Redding's death in 1967 that Walden again concentrated on Jenkins's career. In 1970 Jenkins released the album Ton-Ton Macoute!. The opening track, a cover of Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", has been sampled by numerous musicians, including Beck and Oasis. Several tracks on Ton-Ton Macoute! feature Duane Allman on guitar and Dobro.

With Walden again becoming involved in other projects, Jenkins became disillusioned with the music industry and did nothing of note until 1996. By then Walden had persuaded him to make a comeback, and he released the album Blessed Blues recorded with Chuck Leavell. Two further albums followed; Handle With Care and All in Good Time.

Jenkins died from a stroke in the same town he was born: Macon, Georgia. He was 67.


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