Ralph Johnson (musician)

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Ralph Johnson
Johnson, left, performing with Earth Wind and Fire in 2007
Johnson, left, performing with Earth Wind and Fire in 2007
Background information
Born (1951-07-04) July 4, 1951 (age 69)
Los Angeles, California
GenresR&B, funk, soul, jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, producer, singer, songwriter, author
InstrumentsVocals, drums, percussions, keyboards, drum machine
Years active1972–present
Associated actsEarth, Wind & Fire, Meghan Trainor, Drake, Nathan East, Jay-Z, Howard Hewett, The Temptations
Websitehttps://www.earthwindandfire.com/
External video
video icon Oral History, Ralph Johnson shares how he met Maurice White and joined Earth, Wind and Fire. Interview date September 2, 2014, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Ralph Randolph Johnson (born July 4, 1951) is an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer. Johnson is best known as a member and percussionist of the Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[1] band Earth, Wind & Fire.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles. His father was a lyricist and his mother was a vocalist, and they had music always playing in their home. At the age of eight years old Johnson received his first snare drum and drum lesson. Johnson developed a love of R&B music, listening mainly to Motown and Stax and Sly & The Family Stone. He played in elementary, junior high and high school bands. At age 13, he attended a James Brown concert, which was his first live concert and was amazed by the three drum sets on the stage. In 1965, Johnson's brother introduced him to the world of Jazz. He join local bands "The Teen Turbans" and "The Masters Children".[2][3]

Earth, Wind and Fire[edit]

In 1971, musician Maurice White the founder and bandleader of Earth, Wind & Fire, dismantled his band after recording two albums for Warner Brothers Records, leaving just him and his brother, bassist Verdine White. In December 1971, after White saw Johnson playing at club in Los Angeles, he called and asked Johnson to audition for a new line up of Earth, Wind & Fire. White added Johnson, vocalist Helena Davis, vocalist Phillip Bailey, flutist Ronnie Laws, keyboardist Larry Dunn, and rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista to his new line up. Vocalist Jessica Cleave a former member of Friends of Distinction soon replaced Davis. The new members along with the White brothers, became the new version of Earth, Wind & Fire. In 1972, they left Warner Brothers and recorded their album, "The Last Days and Times" for CBS/Columbia Records.[2][3][4]

As Earth, Wind & Fire percussionist, Johnson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, received 6 Grammy wins and 2 honorary Grammys, received a Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame,[5] earned 50 platinum and gold RIAA awards,[6] 4 American Music Awards, and have sold over 90 million in record sales making them one of the world's best-selling bands of all time.

Solo projects[edit]

In 2000, Johnson traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark with Morris Pleasure to start a new conceptual jazz project. The members of jazz ensemble known as, "Auto Caviar", were Johnson, Pleasure and Steen Kyed. The band release an album entitled, "Transoceanic", that featured guest artists including, Howard Hewett, Janet Jackson, Johnson's band-mate, Phillip Bailey, Jonathan Butler, George Duke and others.[7][8][9]

In 2014, Johnson teamed up with singer and writer,Siedah Garrett and released a Christmas song entitled, "Have a Very Merry Christmas" written by Johnson, Garrett, Erik Nuri and Raymond Crossley.[10] The song was featured in the 2019 film, "Holiday Rush" starring singer Darlene Love.[11]

In 2019, Johnson released a solo project entitled, "Co-Swagit (Everything's Cool)".[12]

In March 2020, Johnson and jazz pianist Gerald Clayton released a single entitled, "Smooth and You" written by Johnson, Raymond Crossley, Gerald Clayton, and D. Stone. The song was produced by Johnson and Crossley.[13]

Johnson has worked with a wide range of artists in different capacities. As a percussionist on Blue Magic's 1978 album Message From The Magic[14] and Stanley Turrentine's 1981 album Tender Togetherness.[15] He worked as a producer on The Temptations 1984 album Truly For You and Howard Hewett's 2008 album Howard Hewett Christmas.[16] Johnson also worked with Drake, Nathan East, and Meghan Trainor[17] and others.[18]

Personal[edit]

Johnson is married to Merced Susie Johnson, and has two children. Ralph and his wife reside in Woodland Hills, California. They celebrated their 41st anniversary in June 2020. Johnson is an avid lover of Jazz.[19]

When Johnson is not on the road, he is an assistant Karate Instructor under his teacher's Mark Zacharatos school. Johnson holds two Blackbelt Degrees. A 1st Degree Tang Soo Do and a 3rd Degree in Kung Fu Sansoo. He is a certified scuba diver with an advance open water certification and a student pilot. Johnson is a tremendous lover of Jazz and an art collector.[20][21][22]

Discography[edit]

With Earth, Wind and Fire[edit]

Other projects[edit]

  • 1978 – Blue Magic, "Message From The Magic" album (Drums)[23]
  • 1981 – Stanley Turrentine, "Tender Togetherness" (Percussion)[24]
  • 1984 – The Temptations, "Treat Her Like A Lady" single (Co-Producer)[25]
  • In 2001 – Jay-Z sampled Johnson's song entitled, "Song Cry" which was on his first Blueprint CD.[26]
  • 2003 – Audio Caviar, (Album) "Transoceanic" (Performer, Percussion, Drums, co-arranger, Co-writer and Co-producer).[27][28]
  • 2008 – Howard Hewett, "Howard Hewett Christmas" (Audio Production, Drums, Main Personnel)[29]
  • 2014 – Johnson and Siedah Garette, "Have A Very Merry Christmas" (Co-writer and performer)
  • 2016 – Nathan East, "Serpentine Fire" (Featured Artist, Vocals)[30]
  • 2017 – Nathan East, "Reverence" (Featured Artist, Percussion)[31]
  • 2019 – Johnson, "Co-Swagit (Everything's Cool)" (Writer, Performer)[32]
  • 2020 – Meghan Trainor, " "Holidays" off of her album, "A Very Trainor Christmas" (Composer, Percussion)[33]
  • 2020 – Drake, "When to Say When" (Composer)[34]
  • 2020 – Ralph Johnson and Eric Clayton, "Smooth and You" (Co-writer and Co-producer)

Awards[edit]

RIAA Awards[edit]

Multi-Platinum Albums[35]

  • 1975 – That's The Way of the World
  • 1975 – Gratitude
  • 1976 – Spirit

Platinum Albums

  • 1973 – Head to the Sky
  • 1974 – Open Our Eyes
  • 1981 – Raise!

Gold Albums

  • 1980 – Faces
  • 1983 – Powerlight
  • 1987 – Touch The World
  • 1988 – The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. II
  • 2003 – The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire

Gold Singles

  • 1975 – Shining Star
  • 1975 – Singasong
  • 1976 – Getaway
  • 1978 – September
  • 1978 – Got To Get You into My Life
  • 1979 – Boogie Wonderland
  • 1979 – After The Love Has Gone
  • 1981 – Let's Groove

Inductions[edit]

  • 1995 – Star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame[36]
  • 2000 – Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame[37]
  • 2003 – Inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk
  • 2003 – Inducted into The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame[38]
  • 2012 – Beacon of Change award at the Beacon Awards Banquet[39]
  • 2019 – Kennedy Center Honors[40][41]

Grammy Awards[edit]

  • 2016 – Lifetime Achievement Award[42]
  • 2008 – GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, "Shining Star"
  • 2004 – NARAS Signature Governors Award
  • 1982 – Best R&B Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocals, "Wanna Be With You"[43]
  • 1979 – Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group Or Chorus, "After The Love Has Gone"
  • 1979 – Best R&B Instrumental Performance, "Boogie Wonderland"
  • 1978 – Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group Or Chorus, "All 'n All"
  • 1978 – Best R&B Instrumental Performance, "Runnin'"
  • 1975 – Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group Or Chorus, "Shining Star"

American Music Awards[edit]

  • 1976 – Favorite Band, Duo Or Group – Soul/Rhythm & Blues[44]
  • 1977 – Favorite Band, Duo Or Group- Soul/Rhythm & Blues
  • 1978 – Favorite Band, Duo Or Group- Soul/Rhythm & Blues
  • 1980 – Favorite Band, Duo Or Group- Soul/Rhythm & Blues

Other awards[edit]

  • 1994 – NAACP Hall Of Fame Image Award[45]
  • 2002 – BET Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2002 – ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award
  • 2002 – TV Land's Entertainer Award
  • 2008 – Honorary Doctorates in the arts from Columbia College in Chicago[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Earth, Wind and Fire | Rock & Roll Hall of Fame". www.rockhall.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Schultz, Drew. "Earth, Wind & Fire's Ralph Johnson". moderndrummer.com. Modern Drummer.
  3. ^ a b c "Ralph Johnson". NAMM.org.
  4. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  5. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  6. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  7. ^ "Media Awards". www.hmmawards.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  8. ^ "Audio Caviar – Transoceanic". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  9. ^ "Transoceanic (2007)". SoulTracks – Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews. October 14, 2007. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "TRV Countdown Video of the Day – Ralph Johnson Featuring Siedah Garrett "Have A Very Merry Christmas"". TRV Countdown. December 10, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  11. ^ "Holiday Rush (2019) – IMDb". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  12. ^ "Co-Swagit (Everything's Cool) – Ralph Johnson | Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  13. ^ "Shazam". Shazam. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  14. ^ "Blue Magic – Message From The Magic". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  15. ^ "Tender Togetherness – Stanley Turrentine | Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  16. ^ "Howard Hewett Christmas – Howard Hewett | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  17. ^ "A Very Trainor Christmas – Meghan Trainor | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  18. ^ "Ralph Johnson | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  19. ^ Pia, Vet And (April 16, 2014). "Love is Never Enough: Ralph and Susie Johnson – Wedded Bliss Wednesday". Love is Never Enough. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  20. ^ "Ralph Johnson". IMDb. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  21. ^ "Music Media Awards". www.hmmawards.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  22. ^ "Meet Legacy Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind, and Fire". Raine Magazine. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  23. ^ "Blue Magic – Message From The Magic". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  24. ^ "Tender Togetherness – Stanley Turrentine | Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  25. ^ "The Temptations – Treat Her Like A Lady". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  26. ^ "Meet Legacy Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind, and Fire". Raine Magazine. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  27. ^ "Audio Caviar – Transoceanic". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  28. ^ "Audio Caviar – Transoceanic". Discogs. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  29. ^ "Howard Hewett Christmas – Howard Hewett | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  30. ^ "Serpentine Fire – Nathan East | Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  31. ^ "Reverence – Nathan East | Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  32. ^ "Co-Swagit (Everything's Cool) – Ralph Johnson | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  33. ^ "A Very Trainor Christmas – Meghan Trainor | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  34. ^ "Dark Lane Demo Tapes – Drake | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  35. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  36. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  37. ^ "Earth, Wind and Fire | Rock & Roll Hall of Fame". www.rockhall.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  38. ^ "The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame | Earth, Wind and Fire". Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  39. ^ "Don Newcombe to receive Major League Baseball's Beacon of Hope Award". MLB.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  40. ^ December 9, CBS News. "Kennedy Center honorees Earth Wind & Fire on their "message of hope and love and respect"". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  41. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire Makes History By Becoming The First Black Group Inducted Into Kennedy Honors". NewsOne. December 15, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  42. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire's Shining Star". GRAMMY.com. February 13, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  43. ^ "Ralph Johnson". GRAMMY.com. November 23, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  44. ^ "The Official Earth, Wind & Fire Website". web.archive.org. February 20, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  45. ^ "The Official Earth, Wind & Fire Website". web.archive.org. February 20, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
  46. ^ Sauro, Tony. "Shining stars: Earth, Wind and Fire". recordnet.com. Retrieved December 15, 2020.

External links[edit]