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Contrary to what a lot of people think, the blues is not depressing music - Paul Geremia, Frets interview

Author Topic: Larry Johnson dead?  (Read 2229 times)

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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Larry Johnson dead?
« on: February 02, 2017, 07:56:50 AM »
I've just gotten news that Larry Johnson died over the summer. I'm having a bit of difficulty believing this since there was no notice in the Times. Anybody know anything?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline harry

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2017, 08:24:30 AM »
He died in a nursing home (summer 2016) according to the wirz site.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2017, 10:36:18 AM »
I find it astounding that no notice appeared in the Times. I won't admit to being dead until I see it in the Times. But really Larry was a major figure, if briefly, in the rural Blues revival,
put out at least one masterpiece record, and deserves recognition.
Did anyone happen to come across or remember a documentary portrait made about him in the mid seventies? It aired on PBS here in NY.
 
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Pan

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2017, 10:44:22 AM »
The source of the news might be his one time playing partner's Brian Kramer's facebook page, which says that he only yesterday heard about Larry having died in a nursing home in the summer.
No details were given, so I'm clinging to a hope that this proves to be some kind of misunderstanding...  :(

Pan

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2017, 03:33:12 PM »
It's sad news, if true. Like Phil says, Larry never received the recognition he deserved. But I for one recognized his talents and never stopped listening to his music.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2017, 10:58:27 PM »
Pete Lowry reported this yesterday

Just heard that Larry Johnson, a former student of Gary Davis (a rare black one!), passed away the middle of last year at a Senior's residence of apparent kidney failure. He was born in 1938 in GA... not fair! RIP

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2017, 08:26:54 AM »
I believe Pete Lowery heard this from Brian Kramer the source for the RBF post. Only problem is that extensive record searching online came up with no death certificate or record of him having died. So if Brian Kramer is reading this I'd like to know what nursing home he was in so I can confirm this absolutely and let the NY times know. He deserves an Obit in the paper of record. Pass this on if you know him or anybody else who might have info.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2017, 08:43:02 AM »
Phil:

You can e-mail Brian at the address at the lower right-hand corner of this page:

http://www.kramerblues.com/

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 06:56:03 AM »
I also heard the news via Brian Kramer on Facebook.

Larry's "Fast & Funky" LP has long been one of my favourite records. Sadly he never matched the lovely picking on other records before or after that one.

I booked him to play here a long time ago (I guess around 25 years - I'm not good at remembering dates), by which time he was playing an electric guitar. Despite fairly substantial strings for an electric, he managed to break the bottom E! When Roger Hubbard turned up to hear him, Larry immediately asked if he'd brought a guitar with him. Being of a modest nature, Roger pointed out that he had not, upon which Larry commented "Shame on you!" Apparently he thought Roger one of the few white exponents of country blues that could get it right.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 07:59:30 AM »
Hi all, I've been in touch with Brian Kramer and with Peter Keepnews at the Times, and put them in touch with each other. Hopefully this will get worked out soon.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Johnm

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 08:31:08 AM »
Apparently he thought Roger one of the few white exponents of country blues that could get it right.

Did Larry say explicitly that Roger was "one of the few white exponents of country blues that could get it right", or is this supposition on your part, Parlor Picker?  He may just have liked Roger's playing and singing and wanted to hear him and play with him without race even being a consideration.

All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 08:58:31 AM »
Thanks for doing the legwork, Phil. Larry needs to be remembered in the Times. And if more people are made aware of the man and his music--even after his passing--so much the better.

Larry's "Fast & Funky" LP has long been one of my favourite records. Sadly he never matched the lovely picking on other records before or after that one.

While I'd choose "Fast & Funky" if I had to choose only one of Larry's albums to listen to, I definitely would not give short shrift to any of the others, as I enjoy them all. I was listening to "Presenting the Country Blues" the other day after I had heard the sad news of Larry's death and was reminded of how soulful a singer Larry was. It's not all about guitar.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2017, 09:58:23 AM »
I have great memories of seeing Larry at Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto in 1971. I'd never heard or seen anyone play like that before. It was astounding.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk


Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2017, 01:23:20 AM »
Unfortunately it is true...
My sources were legit but due to negligence in handling the information in a timely fashion, this went unreported for 6 months.
I got the info out there as soon as I'd verified...
Was difficult to verify but finally I uncovered that there is an updated record in the VA cemetery database that confirms (still only searching Larry as a Bluesman shows nothing, but as a Navy vet...)
Here is the info I have (I have some more specifics I won't share here) that was sent into the Times via Mr O'muck's source and I have also contributed an obit/appreciation piece I wrote for the upcoming Living Blues Magazine.

Larry Johnson; May 15th 1938 ? August 6th 2016
Bluesman Larry Alonzo Johnson, from Riceville Georgia, checked himself into a nursing home in Harlem, June of 2016.
A friend was provided as a contact in case of emergency and notified of Larry?s passing in August.
She then notified another friend of Larry's, who was so devastated by the news, he couldn't come to tell anyone for six months,
then finally revealing to another source who knew I had a close relationship with him.
Cause of death is not specified but Larry was 78 years old, his health deteriorating the last few years.
He did have a son from a prior marriage but their relationship was long estranged.
Mr. Johnson is now laid to rest at the Calverton National Cemetery for Veterans, NY

Larry Johnson was inducted into the New York Blues Hall Of Fame, May 2015
(source Brian Kramer, longtime friend and music collaborator)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 01:33:35 AM by Brian Kramer Blues »

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 09:13:58 AM »
Thank you, Brian.

Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2017, 03:17:36 AM »
On another note;
I just solved a Larry Johnson mystery that really had me stumped!
A friend of Larry's sent me a 2007 Living Blues article where at the close of the piece he talks about a new CD he just did called My Story Should Be Told and it's the one he's been waiting 40 years to do.
This was the first I'd heard of this recording and started searching around... The label's called ZBark records. NOTHING! Doesn't exist... No reference whatsoever anywhere!
I talk to one of Larry's close friends. Never heard about it, has never seen a copy...
I then track down the writer of the article and he gets back to me and apparently has some additional information about the recording along with another contact of a "semi-promoter" who was involved with Larry back then.
BINGO!
He tells me the story, very rare item and a one shot deal to get Larry some product to sell at shows that were arranged for him. Never officially released.
It's apparently a studio quality live recording, laced with stories Larry wanted to tell and document from his lifetime of experience in Blues.
The guy is sending me a copy!
Anyone else out there come across this rare item?

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2017, 04:37:04 PM »
On another note;

...he talks about a new CD he just did called "My Story Should Be Told" and it's the one he's been waiting 40 years to do...

It's apparently a studio quality live recording, laced with stories Larry wanted to tell and document from his lifetime of experience in Blues.

Anyone else out there come across this rare item?

I haven't. Although it's early--you haven't heard it yet--it just might have the potential to fulfill what Larry wanted to do, but to a wider audience.

Keep us posted, Brian.


Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2017, 10:16:18 AM »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2017, 05:30:43 PM »
In '72 I got Eddie Kirkland, Baby Tate, and Larry on the bill for the big outdoor spring musical "do" on the Saturday afternoon at SUNY-New Paltz where I taught biology. Larry was under the wing of Perls then and heard the records, so that meeting Baby Tate was major for him. Someone who knew and met Willie Walker!!! Tate and Larry did some duos on their sets (including "SC Rag") and Larry wanted to record with Tate [their sets were taped by yours truly, of course]. He volunteered to go South with me that summer as it was not possible to do then and there. Tate had a gig booked near Albany, NY by Kip Lornell. When the time came that summer, Larry had changed his mind. Makes sense - going South with a hairy guy with NY plates was probably a bad idea, but I regret that missed opportunity. (Tate was usually loath to do Walker pieces as he felt he wasn't good enough.)
Larry was better than good and he seems to have gotten lost a bit in the sauce, sadly. As we all know, talent is no requisite for success in the music business - it often gets in the way. I love the music and hate the business.

pbl
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 06:33:07 AM by oddenda »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2017, 07:28:58 PM »
The NY Times has shamefully passed on doing an obit for Larry, siting the reduction in their music staff as one reason. I for one would still like to see him have that, and would put in some money to pay for an obit. I'm curious how many others would also be willing to do so. According to Ask .com, The New York Times charges  $263 for the first four lines and then $52 per line after that, with about 28 characters per line. I suppose we could write a medium length and short obit and see how much money would could raise on Go Fund Me or [/size]Kickstarter. Anyone interested?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline oddenda

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2017, 08:03:24 PM »
On Larry Johnson - it is true that Bobby Robinson released a solo 45 on the Blue Soul label (I picked up a copy back then). Why Bobby thought this was a great commercial idea, I do not know.... never asked him. No more so than Ahmet Ertegun reording Blind Willie McTell for Atlantic in 1949! This was back in 1966 for those recording: PRODUCED BY Mike Vernon!! This was maybe a year LATER than the Sam Charters produced 1965 album on Prestige (Larry and Hank)! Sometimes back in the day, before all was taken over by lawyers and market research people, Record men LIKED the music enough to do that.

pbl

Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2017, 01:17:08 AM »
You can actually find that 45 on YouTube...
Larry has stated that those Bobby Robinson produced recordings that were released in the UK in 66' were recorded in 59' and the master tapes were somehow "stolen" from the back of Bobby's record store in Harlem.
Then turned up released in England years later (Presenting The Country Blues) "with some kind of crab on the cover", as Larry said in a televised interview I have.
Larry proudly introduced me to Bobby one time in Harlem and they had a very strong relationship. Bobby had a lot of faith in Larry's potential and ability very early on, when he was still just getting it all together.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2017, 01:20:10 AM by Brian Kramer Blues »

Offline evan

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2017, 11:23:41 PM »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2017, 11:35:10 PM »
I stand corrected - Mike Vernon was apparently not involved in the Robinson recordings; probably put the Blue Horizon LP together. Bobby tried another acoustic release on a different label, but I cannot remember its name, nor the artist. One of the songs was "Another Sun Done(?) Set" with a strummed acoustic guitar and a fine baritone vocal. "True" folk music.

pbl

Offline David Kaatz

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2017, 03:01:29 PM »
Wow, some great stuff by Larry. He sure wasn't on my radar until mentioned here on WC a few times, and now this sad news.
So, those of you that knew him, is this picture accurate? I did a screen capture from one of the youtube videos, focusing on his left hand. His ring finger looks scarily, eerily, too long.

Dave

I can't see the attachment in my preview view, hopefully this works.

Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2017, 04:27:03 PM »
Larry never used his little finger (pinky) when fretting a long A chord in first position and his hand/ring finger definitely adapted to this over time, giving it a bit of a contorted look.
He actually hardly ever used his little finger in most first position chords...
I tried to emulate years ago just to see if there was something unique about this form, but that's just the way he learned it.
He also picked with only his thumb and index finger, like Rev. Gary Davis, which I always found remarkable with the complex flurry of bass runs and passing chords and phrases he fluidly played.

Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2017, 05:20:02 PM »
I received this amazing, candid two part TV interview of Larry from 2007 also performing a number of songs and uploaded to YouTube.
Just great stuff! Enjoy!
Part 1

Part 2

Offline eric

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2017, 07:28:44 PM »
Thanks for posting that, Brian.
--
Eric

Offline Brian Kramer Blues

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2017, 04:37:28 PM »
Well, here is an online version of the piece I wrote on Larry Johnson...
Can't say that I'm completely happy with it because I submit it with an approved word count as is, but they wound up editing some essential content.
Also an unforeseen format glitch that they didn't catch before publishing has a pertinent quote at the end repeated three times.
But at least something fitting about Larry Johnson is out there...

http://digital.livingblues.com/publication/index.php?i=395756&m=&l=&p=92&pre=&ver=html5

Offline Stuart

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2017, 05:26:02 PM »
Thank you, Brian.

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Larry Johnson dead?
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2017, 03:09:52 AM »
And thanks from me, Brian. Very well put.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

 


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