Ralph Johnson (musician)
Johnson, left, performing with Earth Wind and Fire in 2007
July 4, 1951 |
Los Angeles, California United States
|Genres||R&b, funk, soul, jazz|
|Instruments||Vocals, drums, percussions, keyboards, drum machine|
|Associated acts||Earth, Wind & Fire|
|Website||Ralph Johnson on Myspace|
Ralph Johnson is an award winning American musician, best known as one of the original members, percussionists and vocalists for Earth, Wind & Fire. Ralph “Slick” Johnson is no stranger to the industry, as his resume reads of music royalty. Besides performing and recording with Earth, Wind and Fire, Ralph has produced and performed on several artists’ records such as Howard Hewitt, Jay- Z, Temptations, Johnny Adams, Blue Magic, Stanley Turrentine, Chuck Carbo, and more. By 1968 Ralph had become involved with a local veteran showcase called, "Maverick Splash.” He joined a local band called, "The Master's Children". He vigorously played and honed his drumming skills throughout this formal period.
In his early career, Maurice and Verdine White attended one of Ralph’s performances and became very impressed by his talent. In late 1971, Ralph received a phone call from Michael Beale, Earth, Wind and Fire's then guitar player. Ralph auditioned with Michael Beale and Verdine White at Michael's house, soon landing him a spot in the legendary music group.
In 1972, Earth, Wind & Fire signed with Columbia Records, and soon hit the top music charts with their Wirst single entitled, "Mighty, Mighty". This was followed by yet another hit, "Shining Star" and "Sun Goddess" (a Ramsey Lewis contribution.)
In 1984, when Earth, Wind & Fire took a hiatus from the music industry, the group members split and began to work on various projects. Ralph Johnson and Al McKay worked with Motown and produced the Temptations hit single, "Treat Her Like A Lady.”
Ralph first received film exposure when Earth, Wind & Fire created a movie soundtrack entitled, "That's The Way of The World". Though the film fell to reach the masses, the music from the soundtrack became an instant commercial hit on the airways. The film's title song "That's The Way of The World" would become the band's official anthem.
On April 25, 2000, Ralph Johnson and Morris Pleasure met in Copenhagen, Denmark to begin a new conceptual jazz project. Ralph Johnson, Morris Pleasure and Steen Kyed prevailed and now comprise the jazz ensemble simply known as, “Auto Caviar.” The first release for the band "Auto Caviar" was entitled, "Transoceanic". This premiere album showcased other special guests lending their artistry to the band; including, George Duke, Philip Bailey, Janet Jackson, Pam Johnson, Howard Hewitt, Jonathan Butler, Paulinho Dacosta, Gary Bias, and more.
Ralph’s talents extend beyond music and film, and if you’ve caught one of their shows you’ve probably seen Ralph Johnson perform a series of karate moves at the end of the night when he is introduced. These moves are a part of his dedication to martial arts. He has practiced martial arts for over 20 years and holds first-degree black belts in both American Tang Soo Do karate and Kung Fu San Soo.
After forty years of performing and touring with Earth, Wind & Fire, Ralph can still be found center stage with his own brand of “slick” choreography and smooth vocal style artistry to support the group’s signature sound that their fans have grown to love for over the past forty years, and many more to come.
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