Gus Johnson (jazz musician)

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Gus Johnson
Johnson at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, California, 1980s
Johnson at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, California, 1980s
Background information
Birth nameGus Johnson
Born(1913-11-15)November 15, 1913
Tyler, Texas, United States
DiedFebruary 6, 2000(2000-02-06) (aged 86)
Denver, Colorado, United States
GenresSwing, big band
Years active1922–1990

Gus Johnson (November 15, 1913[1] – February 6, 2000)[2] was an American swing drummer in various jazz bands, born in Tyler, Texas, United States.[1] After learning to play drums from his next-door neighbor, Johnson occasionally played professionally at the age of ten in the Lincoln Theater, and performed in various local groups, most notable McDavid's Blue Rhythm Band. Upon graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, Johnson moved to Kansas City, where he took up drumming full-time. He joined Jay McShann's Orchestra in 1938,[1] with his music career being interrupted by his conscription into the military in 1943.[3]

In 1945, Johnson returned from his stint in the military, and relocated to Chicago to perform in the Jesse Miller Band. Johnson played on Willie Dixon's debut album, Willie's Blues. He subsequently played alongside Count Basie,[1] and was recorded on the album, Basie Rides Again, in 1952. Following a recovery from appendicitis, Johnson was featured in numerous groups and dozens of recordings in the 1960s.[1] In 1972, his former bandmates from Jay McShann's Orchestra reconvened to record Going to Kansas City. Although Johnson continued to tour into the 1980s, he developed Alzheimer's disease in 1989, which he struggled with until his death on February 6, 2000.[2]


With Manny Albam

With Count Basie

With Lawrence Brown

With Ray Bryant

With Buck Clayton

With Al Cohn

With Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Coleman Hawkins

With Johnny Hodges

With Willis Jackson

With Herbie Mann

With Gerry Mulligan

With Joe Newman

With Chico O'Farrill

With Oscar Pettiford

With Al Sears

With Zoot Sims

With Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams

With Ralph Sutton and Ruby Braff

With Ralph Sutton and Jay McShann

With Ralph Sutton and Kenny Davern

  • Ralph Sutton and Kenny Davern (Chiaroscuro)

With Buddy Tate

With Frank Wess

With Lem Winchester

With Kai Winding


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1295. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b Javiniski, Laurie (22 February 2012). History of Texas Music. ISBN 9780876112977.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Gus Johnson - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved July 6, 2015.

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