Johnny Lee (singer)

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Johnny Lee
Background information
Birth nameJohn Lee Ham[1]
Born (1946-07-03) July 3, 1946 (age 77)
OriginAlta Loma, Texas, USA
GenresCountry, Pop, Countrypolitan
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1976–present
LabelsAsylum Records
Warner Bros. Records
Curb Records

Johnny Lee (born John Lee Ham; July 3, 1946) is an American country music singer. His 1980 single "Lookin' for Love" became a crossover hit, spending three weeks at number 1 on the Billboard country singles chart while also appearing in the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and top 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. He racked up 17 top 40 country hits in the early and mid-1980s.


Lee was born in Texas City, Texas, and grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Alta Loma (now part of Santa Fe, Texas). In high school he formed a rock n' roll band, "Johnny Lee and the Roadrunners". After graduation, Lee enlisted in the United States Navy and served a tour of duty on the USS Chicago, a guided missile cruiser. After his discharge, he had his name legally changed from John Lee Ham to Johnny Lee. He played cover tunes in Texas nightclubs and bars throughout the late 1960s.

Lee worked 10 years with Mickey Gilley, both on tour and at Gilley’s Club in Pasadena, Texas. The soundtrack from the 1980 hit movie Urban Cowboy, which was largely shot at Gilley's, catapulted Lee to fame. The record spawned several hit singles, including "Lookin' for Love."

Lee also had five other songs reach the top of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart: "One in a Million" (1980), "Bet Your Heart on Me" (1981), "The Yellow Rose" (1984, a duet with Lane Brody and the theme song to the NBC TV-series of the same name), and "You Could Have Heard a Heartbreak" (1984). His other hits include "Pickin' Up Strangers" (1981), "Prisoner of Hope" (1981), "Cherokee Fiddle"(1982), "Sounds Like Love"(1982), "When You Fall In Love"(1982), "Be There For Me Baby"(1981), "Hey Bartender" (1983), "Rollin' Lonely"(1984), and "Save the Last Chance" (1985).

From 1982 to 1984, Lee was married to Dallas actress Charlene Tilton, with whom he had a daughter, Cherish (born 1982). He married his second wife, Deborah Spohr Lee, in 1986.[2] The couple had a son, Johnny Lee Jr., in 1990 and divorced years later. Deborah died November 7, 2002, after a long battle with prescription painkillers. After Johnny Lee Jr. died in 2014 at the age of 23 of a drug overdose, Lee became active in combating the illegal drug epidemic.[3]

In the fall of 2008, Lee began performing regularly in Branson, Missouri.



Year Album Chart Positions RIAA
US Country
CAN Country
1977 H-e-e-ere's Johnny!
1977 For Lovers Only
1980 Lookin' for Love 8 6 Gold
1981 Bet Your Heart on Me 9
1982 Sounds Like Love 32
1983 Hey Bartender 15
Greatest Hits 41
1984 Til' the Bars Burn Down 23
1985 Workin' for a Livin 23
Keep Me Hangin' On 36
1989 New Directions
1989 Buckmasters Presents Woods & Water
1990 Greatest Hits Volume 2
1990 The Best of Johnny Lee
1995 Country Party
1996 Ramblin' Rose
1999 Live at Gilley's
2001 At His Best
2002 Live at Billy Bob's Texas
2003 The 13th of July
Greatest Hits
2005 Santa Claus Is Lookin' for Love
2006 Country Candy Store
2016 You Ain't Never Been To Texas
2021 Everything's Gonna Be Alright


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country
CAN Country
1976 "Sometimes" 59
"Red Sails in the Sunset" 22 H-e-e-ere's Johnny!
1977 "Ramblin' Rose" 37
"Country Party" 15 50
"Dear Alice" 58
1978 "This Time" 43
1980 "Lookin' for Love"[A] 1 5 18 Lookin' for Love
"One in a Million" 1 102 8
1981 "Pickin' Up Strangers" 3 4
"Prisoner of Hope" 3 4
"Rode Hard and Put Up Wet" 52 Urban Cowboy 2
"Bet Your Heart on Me" 1 54 5 Bet Your Heart on Me
1982 "Be There for Me Baby" 10 5
"When You Fall in Love" 14 46
"Cherokee Fiddle" 10 24 Sounds Like Love
1983 "Sounds Like Love" 6 9
"Hey Bartender" 2 1 Hey Bartender
"My Baby Don't Slow Dance" 23 13
1984 "The Yellow Rose" (with Lane Brody) 1 1 'Til the Bars Burn Down
"One More Shot" 42 26
"You Could've Heard a Heart Break" 1 2 Workin' for a Livin'
1985 "Rollin' Lonely" 9 9
"Save the Last Chance" 12 12 Keep Me Hangin' On
"They Never Had to Get Over You" 19 57
1986 "The Loneliness in Lucy's Eyes
(The Life Sue Ellen Is Living)"
56 Dallas: The Music Story
"I Could Get Used to This" (with Lane Brody) 50
1989 "Maybe I Won't Love You Anymore" 59 New Directions
"I'm Not Over You" 69
"I Can Be a Heartbreaker Too" 53
"You Can't Fly Like an Eagle" 66
1990 "Heart to Heart Talk" [A]
"Dangerously Lonely" The Best of Johnny Lee
"Money in My Pocket"
2016 "Never Been to Texas" You Ain't Never Been to Texas

Charted B-sides[edit]

Year B-side Chart Positions Original A-side
US Country
1984 "Say When" flip "The Yellow Rose"
  • A^ "Lookin' for Love" also peaked at No. 20 on the RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and No. 54 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada.
  • B^ "Heart to Heart Talk" did not chart on Hot Country Songs, but peaked at No. 4 on Hot Country Radio Breakouts.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1981 "Lookin' for Love" Best Male Country Vocal Performance Nominated

Music City News Country Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1981 Johnny Lee Most Promising Male Artist Nominated

Academy of Country Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1977 Johnny Lee Most Promising Male Vocalist Nominated
1981 Top New Male Vocalist Won
"Lookin' for Love" Song of the Year Nominated
Single Record of the Year Nominated


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 198.
  2. ^ "Beaver County Times - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Clark, Joshua. "Johnny Lee talks love, loss and Branson return". Branson Tri-Lakes News. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "Johnny Lee Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  5. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Country Albums". RPM. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Johnny Lee Album & Song Chart History - Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  7. ^ "Johnny Lee Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Country Singles". RPM. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  9. ^ "Hot Country Radio Breakouts" (PDF). Billboard. March 24, 1990.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]