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2001 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Johnson

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Keith Richards
  • Category:
    Musical Excellence
Johnnie Johnson

The inspiration for "Johnny B. Goode" and the greatest blues pianist of his time.

Johnnie Johnson is nowhere near renowned as he should be. He was a prodigy since age 4, an apprentice to Muddy Waters and the piano giant on whose shoulders Chuck Berry rose to prominence.

Hall of Fame Essay


Rob Bowman

On a fateful day in early 1956, Johnnie Johnson and Chuck Berry headed to Chicago for their fourth recording session at Chess Records.

Their first three efforts had produced the blues-inflected stylings of “Wee Wee Hours,” “No Money Down” and “Downbound Train” and the cut-time country raveups “Maybellene,” “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Thirty Days.” The results had been impressive, jump-starting Berry’s career with four Top Ten R&B hits, one of which, “Maybellene,” enjoyed similar success on the pop chart.

Johnnie Johnson’s piano is all over these songs, contributing rol­licking high-end boogie-woogie licks that served as the perfect counterpoint to Berry’s souped-up guitar on the uptempo tunes, while on the slow blues, such as “Wee Wee Hours,” Johnson laid down triplet-ridden , soulful responsorial fils and a solo that proved him the equal of any blues pianist then current on the Chicago scene.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program Cover 1991
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whoever invented the piano, eat your heart out

Keith Richards

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