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Johnny Lytle


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Johnny Lytle (born John Dillard Lytle on 13 October 1932, Springfield, Ohio; died December 15, 1995, Springfield)

Considered one of the top vibes players in the world, Johnny Lytle was known for his great hand speed and showmanship. He was also a songwriter and wrote many of his own hits, including “The Loop,” “The Man,” “Lela,” “Selim,” and the jazz classic “The Village Caller.” Lytle recorded more than 30 albums for various jazz labels including Tuba, Jazzland, Solid State and Muse. Throughout his career he performed and recorded with jazz greats the likes of Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Bobby Timmons and Roy Ayers. The devoted father of three also featured his son, Marcel Lytle, on several of his recordings as a vocalist and drummer.

(2) Lytle was such an admirer of the music of the late great Miles Davis that he wrote “Selim” (Miles spelled backwards) in honor of Davis, which features Davis’ former pianist Wynton Kelly. Lytle never recorded with any of the major record labels, and that could be why he never gained the status of a jazz icon like some of his peers. Lytle felt that he would lose control of his music and creative development; Lytle liked to play what came natural to him, and being with a major label might not have afforded him that opportunity.

Johnny Lytle grew up in a family of music, the son of a trumpeter father and an organist mother. He began playing the drums and piano at an early age. Before studying music in earnest, Lytle lent his hands to boxing, and was a successful Golden Gloves champion.


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  • afu-sake

    amazing artist, for sure he got that feeling!

    12 Feb 2012 Reply
  • littlefield

    There are many jazz musicians more recognized than Johnny Lytle, but not as many in his league.

    30 May 2011 Reply
  • Sgarre1

    He was a great man - and he made beautiful music!

    28 Dec 2010 Reply
  • luv4hu

    This is my Uncle.... He was a great man. I miss him dearly... He was simply a magician when it came to music. I remember listening to his music in the basement before he would record it. I miss you Uncle Dilly... .

    24 Jan 2010 Reply

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