James "Stump" Johnson

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James "Stump" Johnson
Stump ducks.jpg
Cover of "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas"
Background information
Born(1902-01-17)January 17, 1902
Clarksville, Tennessee, United States
DiedDecember 5, 1969(1969-12-05) (aged 67)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
GenresSt. Louis blues
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
InstrumentsVocals, piano
LabelsQRS, Bluebird, Paramount

James "Stump" Johnson (January 17, 1902 – December 5, 1969)[1] was an American blues pianist and singer from St. Louis.


James "Stump" Johnson was the brother of Jesse Johnson, "a prominent black business man," who around 1909[2] had moved the family from Clarksville, Tennessee, to St. Louis, where he ran a music store and was a promoter.[3] James, a self-taught piano player,[4] made a career playing the city's brothels.[5] He had an instant hit with the "whorehouse tune"[2] "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas", "a popular St. Louis party song".[6] The song's title is from the lyric "Shake your shoulders, shake 'em fast, if you can't shake your shoulders, shake your yas-yas-yas."[2]

He made a number of other recordings (some mildly pornographic) under various pseudonyms.[7] One of the more obscene songs was a version of "Steady Grinding", which he recorded with Dorothea Trowbridge on August 2, 1933;[8] the song has the "defiant, sexually aggressive lyrics" early blueswomen were noted for,[9] grinding being slang for sexual intercourse.[10]


James "Stump" Johnson (1929–1964)[edit]

James "Stump" Johnson (1929–1964)
Stump johnson.jpg
Compilation album by
James "Stump" Johnson
GenreSt. Louis blues

Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Document DOCD-5250, CD[11]

  1. "The Duck Yas-Yas-Yas"
  2. "The Snitcher's Blues"
  3. "Bound to Be a Monkey"
  4. "My Babe Blues"
  5. "Jones Law Blues"
  6. "Transom Blues (Bury That Thing)"
  7. "Soaking Wet Blues"
  8. "Kind Babe Blues"
  9. "What You Do What I Asked You To"
  10. "Heart Is Right Blues"
  11. "Low Moanin' Blue"
  12. "Snitcher's Blues"
  13. "Baby B. Blues"
  14. "You Buzzard You"
  15. "Sail on Black Sue"
  16. "Barrel of Whiskey Blues"
  17. "Steady Grindin'"
  18. "Money Johnson"
  19. "Don't Give My Lard Away"
  20. "Snitcher's Blues No. 2"
  21. "Bound to Be a Monkey"
  22. "Duck Yas-Yas-Yas"

The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas[edit]

Compilation/reissue, Agram Blues AB-2007, LP[12]

Side A[edit]

  1. "The Duck-Yas-Yas-Yas"
  2. "The Snitchers Blues"
  3. "My Babe Blues"
  4. "My Babe Blues"
  5. "Transom Blues (Bury That Thing)"
  6. "Soaking Wet Blues"
  7. "Kind Babe Blues"
  8. "Would You Do What I Asked You To"

Side B[edit]

  1. "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas"
  2. "Heart Is Right Blues"
  3. "Snitcher's Blues"
  4. "You Buzzard You"
  5. "Sail on Black Sue"
  6. "Money Johnson"
  7. "Snitchers Blues"
  8. "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas"
  9. "The Duck's Yas-Yas-Yas"
  10. "Snitchers Blues"


  1. ^ "The 1960s". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Rijn, Guido van (1993). James "Stump" Johnson 1929–1964 (CD booklet). Document Records. p. 2.
  3. ^ Townsend, Henry; Greensmith, Bill (1999). A Blues Life. University of Illinois Press. p. 116 n. 5. ISBN 978-0-252-02526-6.
  4. ^ Cunningham, Lyn Driggs; Jones, Jimmy (1989). Sweet, Hot, and Blue: St. Louis' Musical Heritage. McFarland. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-89950-302-8.
  5. ^ Oliver, Paul (1989). Screening the Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition. Da Capo Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-306-80344-4.
  6. ^ Hentoff, Nat; McCarthy, Albert J. (1975). Jazz: New Perspectives on the History of Jazz by Twelve of the World's Foremost Jazz Critics and Scholars. Da Capo Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-306-80002-3.
  7. ^ Oliver, Paul (1997). Conversation with the Blues. Cambridge University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-521-59181-2.
  8. ^ Oliver, Paul (1989). Screening the Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition. Da Capo Press. p. 272 n. 29. ISBN 978-0-306-80344-4.
  9. ^ Winsby, Meghan; Fairweather, Abrol (2012). "'The Blue Light Was My Baby and the Red Light Was My Mind': Religion and Gender in the Blues". In Jesse R. Steinberg and Abrol Fairweather, eds. Blues – Philosophy for Everyone: Thinking Deep About Feeling Low. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 153–75. ISBN 9780470656808.CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
  10. ^ Calt, Stephen (2009). Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary. University of Illinois Press. p. 275. ISBN 9780252033476.
  11. ^ "James 'Stump' Johnson (1929–1964)". Weblo.com. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
  12. ^ Rijn, Guido van. "Agram Blues". Agram. Retrieved 2009-07-21.

External links[edit]