There are a lot of musicians called Bill Johnson. There is even a blues lyric: "Early this mornin' 'bout half past four, I seen Bill Johnson comin' out your door." Yes, but which one?
Some of them are:
# 1 - Bill Johnson was a rock & roll and rhythm & blues musician. He recorded "You Better Dig It" for Talos Records as Bill Johnson & The Four Steps Of Rhythm. And he was part of Sam & Bill.
# 2 - William Manuel "Bill" Johnson (August 10, 1872 – December 3, 1972), was an American jazz musician, considered the father of the "slap" style of string bass playing.
Johnson claimed to have started "slapping" the strings of his bass (a more vigorous technique than the classical pizzicato) after he accidentally broke his bow on the road with his band in northern Louisiana in the early 1910s. Other New Orleans string bass players picked up this style, and spread it across the country with the spread of New Orleans Jazz.
Johnson was founder and manager of the first jazz band to leave New Orleans and tour widely in the 1910s, The Original Creole Orchestra.
In Chicago in the early 1920s he assembled King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, considered perhaps the best of the early ensemble style jazz bands. He taught younger Chicago musicians (including Milt Hinton) his "slap" style of string bass playing. He made many fine recordings in Chicago in the late 1920s.
Johnson continued to play with various jazz bands and orchestras like Bill johnson's Louisiana Jug Band into the early 1950s, sometimes working under other names. He was also involved in the import/export business along the USA-Mexico border.
Johnson's brother Ollie "Dink" Johnson was also a noted musician and his sister Anita Gonzales was common-law wife or perhaps married to Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton during his stays in California.
Bill Johnson died in New Braunfels, Texas, at the age of 100.
Bill Johnson and one of the first band leaders to take the New Orleans style of Jazz outside of the city. In 1909 he was the leader of a band in California. In 1912 he sent for Freddie Keppard and several other New Orleans musicians and toured the country until 1918 on the Orpheum circuit under the name of the Original Creole Orchestra. The band was very popular and no doubt introduced their Northern audiences to Jazz for the first time. Johnson was actually the one who got the gig at the Royal Garden in Chicago, but hired King Oliver to front the band, hence the Original Creole Orchestra eventually became King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, and Johnson continued to play bass in the band until the group broke up in 1923. He led his own band in Chicago for many years after that and also played in some of Johnny Dodds' bands. He continued to live and play in Chicago until the 1950's when he retired from music and moved to Mexico. Bill Johnson's sister was Anita Johnson Gonzales whom Jelly Roll Morton had a long history with as her lover and business partner. Morton claimed that they were married but no legal documents have ever been found to substantiate this claim.
# 3 - Bill Johnson is the Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. He, and the churches Associate Sr. Pastor, Kris Vallotton are both popular speakers at Christian conferences around the world.
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