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  • Born

    27 December 1889

  • Born In

    New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

  • Died

    7 July 1949 (aged 59)

Willie Gary "Bunk" Johnson (ca. 1879 or 1889 – July 7, 1949) was a prominent early New Orleans player in the early years of the 20th century who enjoyed a revived career in the 1940s.

Bunk was regarded as one of the top trumpeters in New Orleans in the years 1905–1915, in between repeatedly leaving the city to tour with minstrel shows and circus bands. After he failed to appear for a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade job in 1915, he learned the krewe members intended to do him bodily harm, and so he left town, touring with shows and then settling in New Iberia, Louisiana. In 1931 he lost his trumpet and front teeth when a violent fight broke out at a dance in Rayne, Louisiana, putting an end to his playing. He thereafter worked in manual labor, occasionally giving music lessons on the side when he could.

Bunk's work in the 1940's show why he was so well regarded by his fellow musicians playing with such incredible imagination, subtlety and beauty (as well as suggesting why he had not achieved fame earlier, for he was unpredictable and temperamental with a fondness for drinking alcohol to the point of serious impairment (hi hi)).

Here's to ya Bunk!

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