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Lil Johnson

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Lil Johnson (dates and places of birth and death unknown) was an African American singer who recorded bawdy blues and hokum songs in the 1920s and 1930s.

Her origins and early life are not known. She first recorded in Chicago in 1929, accompanied by pianists Montana Taylor and Charles Avery on five songs including “Rock That Thing”. She did not return to the recording studio until 1935, when her more risqué songs included “Get ‘Em From The Peanut Man (Hot Nuts)”, “Anybody Want To Buy My Cabbage?”, and “Press My Button (Ring My Bell)” (“Come on baby, let’s have some fun / Just put your hot dog in my bun”).

From her second session onwards, she hit up a striking partnership with the ragtime influenced pianist “Black Bob” Hudson, who provided ebullient support to Johnson’s increasingly suggestive lyrics. In 1936 and 1937, she recorded over 40 songs, mostly on the Vocalion label, some featuring Big Bill Broonzy on guitar and Lee Collins on trumpet. Her other songs included “Was I Drunk”, “My Stove’s in Good Condition”, “Take Your Hand Off It” and “Buck Naked Blues”.

All her songs were sung in a vigorous and sometimes abrasive way, and have been anthologised on many later blues collections. There is no record of what became of Johnson after her recording career ended in 1937.

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