Fans and friends are mourning the loss of the man Quincy Jones calls “one of the greatest bass players to ever pick up the instrument”. Johnson died of undisclosed causes this week. He was 60 years old.
Louis Johnson first rose to fame alongside his brother George in their 70’s R&B band The Brothers Johnson. The funky dance music and soulfully poetic ballads helped the band rise to the top of the charts for more than a decade. The duo turned out smash hits like “Strawberry Letter 23”, “Stomp” and “I’ll Be Good to You”. In the early days, the group toured with superstars like Bobby Womack and the Supremes. They were eventually hired by Quincy Jones to play a tour in Japan. Jones produced their debut album “Look Out for #1” and was a cowriter on their 1976 song “Get the Funk Out Ma Face” in 1.
By 1982, Louis and George knew it was time to go their separate ways and pursue their own individual projects. One of the first things Louis did was to record a gospel album with his own group Passage.
Johnson’s biggest successes of his solo career would find him not out in front, but in the background. His signature slapping technique on the bass guitar earned him the nickname “Thunder Thumbs” and kept his skills in high demand. The legendary bassist worked with everyone from the late gospel great Andrae Crouch, to folk-style pop singers The Carpenters to rocker Stevie Nicks.
Louis who called himself the “rarest bass player in the whole world” never took his fame for granted, but he knew it was a gift; “I had access to all musicians and artists, from Barbra Streisand to Paul McCartney to Michael Jackson… It was like an open door. The Lord blessed me with that — I prayed to God and my prayer he answered. He said, ‘OK, you got the whole world now…”
In 2002, Louis reunited on stage with his brother George for the reunion tour of the U.S which received positive and wide exposure. When Johnson wasn’t performing, he was teaching others how to master the bass guitar through an instructional video and website.
Date Posted: Monday, May 25th, 2015 , Total Page Views: 849
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