Buddy Johnson

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Not to be confused with Budd Johnson.
Buddy Johnson, c. 1943

Woodrow Wilson "Buddy" Johnson (January 10, 1915 – February 9, 1977) was an American jazz and New York blues pianist and bandleader, active from the 1930s through the 1960s. His songs were often performed by his sister Ella Johnson, most notably "Since I Fell for You", which became a jazz standard.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Darlington, South Carolina,[1] Johnson took piano lessons as a child, and classical music remained one of his passions.[2] In 1938 he moved to New York City,[3] and the following year toured Europe with the Cotton Club Revue, being expelled from Nazi Germany. Later in 1939 he first recorded for Decca Records with his band, soon afterwards being joined by his sister Ella as vocalist.

By 1941 he had assembled a nine-piece orchestra,[2] and soon began a series of R&B and pop chart hits. These included "Let's Beat Out Some Love" (No. 2 R&B, 1943, with Johnson on vocals), "Baby Don't You Cry" (No. 3 R&B, 1943, with Warren Evans on vocals), his biggest hit "When My Man Comes Home" (No. 1 R&B, No. 18 pop, 1944, with Ella Johnson on vocals), and "They All Say I'm The Biggest Fool" (No. 5 R&B, 1946, with Arthur Prysock on vocals). Ella Johnson recorded her version of "Since I Fell for You" in 1945, but it did not become a major hit until recorded by Lenny Welch in the early 1960s.

In 1946 Johnson composed a Blues Concerto, which he performed at Carnegie Hall in 1948. His orchestra remained a major touring attraction through the late 1940s and early 1950s, and continued to record in the jump blues style with some success on record on the Mercury label like "Hittin' on Me" and "I'm Just Your Fool".[2] His song "Bring It Home to Me" appears on the 1996 Rocket Sixty-Nine release Jump Shot.

"Personally, I like classics," Buddy Johnson told Down Beat, "but our bread and butter is in the south. The music I play has a southern tinge to it. They understand it down there."[3]

In 1977 Johnson died at the age of 62 from a brain tumor and sickle cell anemia in New York.



  • "Please, Mr. Johnson," Decca, 1941
  • "In There," Decca, 1941
  • "I'm My Baby's Boy," Decca, 1941
  • "Trilon Swing/Southern Exposure," Decca, 1941
  • "I Still Love You," Decca, 1944
  • "That's the Stuff You Gotta Watch," Decca, 1944
  • "Opus Two," Decca, 1945
  • "Walk 'Em," Decca, 1945
  • "Li'l Dog," Decca, 1947
  • "Pullamo," Decca, 1947
  • "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?," Decca, 1949
  • "Shake 'em Up," Decca, 1950
  • "Stormy Weather," Decca, 1951
  • "Am I Blue?," Decca, 1951
  • "Till My Baby Comes Back," Decca, 1951
  • "Shufflin' and Rollin'," Decca, 1951
  • "I'm Just Your Fool," Mercury, 1953 (covered by the Rolling Stones in their 2016 release Blue & Lonesone)
  • "Bring It On Home to Me," Mercury, 1956


  • Rock 'n Roll Stage Show, Mercury/Wing, 1956
  • Buddy Johnson Wails, Mercury, 1957
  • Swing Me, Mercury, 1958
  • Rock and Roll with Buddy Johnson, Mercury/Wing, 1958
  • Go Ahead & Rock Rock Rock, Roulette, 1958
  • Buddy and Ella Johnson 1953-64, Bear Family, 1995
  • Rockin' n' Rollin' featuring Ella Johnson, Collectables, 1995
  • Walk 'Em: Decca Sessions, Ace, 1996


  • Induction, South Carolina Music Hall of Fame, 2001[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Johnson, Buddy Biography: Contemporary Musicians". web archive/enotes/Contemporary Musicians. 30 January 2009. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Dahl, Bill. "Buddy Johnson | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 124–25. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 

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