Al Johnson (musician)

Last updated
Al Johnson
Birth name Alfred Orlando Johnson
Born(1948-02-11)February 11, 1948
Newport News, Virginia, United States
Died October 26, 2013(2013-10-26) (aged 65)
Genres Soul, R&B
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1966–2013
Labels Columbia, Kapp, Clout, Marina
Associated acts The Unifics

Alfred Orlando "Al" Johnson (February 11, 1948 – October 26, 2013) was an American R&B singer, writer, arranger and producer.

Contents

Biography

Born in Newport News, Virginia in 1948, Johnson attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and while there, co-founded the soul group, The Unifics. [1] The group, with Johnson as lead singer, scored three hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 and 1969 for the Kapp Records label. The first, "Court Of Love" climbed to #25, but reached #3 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The follow-up, "The Beginning Of The End" got to #36 on the Hot 100 and #9 R&B. Two further releases in 1969 reached the R&B chart.

Newport News, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Newport News is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 180,719. In 2013, the population was estimated to be 183,412, making it the fifth-most populous city in Virginia.

Howard University university in Washington D.C.

Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. It is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with higher research activity and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Johnson returned to writing and recording in 1978 with a solo album, Peaceful which he co-produced, as well as arranging and co-writing, for a small label, Marina, part-owned by former singer, Lloyd Price. He also wrote "We Have Love for You" for Deniece Williams.

Deniece Williams is an American singer, songwriter and producer. Williams has been described as "one of the great soul voices" by the BBC. Williams has won four Grammys with twelve nominations altogether.

In 1980, Johnson collaborated with jazz/soul producer Norman Connors, for an album, Back for More, on Columbia Records. This came after he had sung on Norman Connors' album, Invitation for Arista Records in 1979, singing the lead track, "Your Love". Back For More peaked at #48 on the Billboard Black Albums chart. [2] The lead single from the album, "I'm Back for More", a duet with Jean Carn, [3] reached #26 on the R&B chart, whilst the follow-up, "I've Got My Second Wind", hit #58, both in 1980. [2]

Norman Connors American musician

Norman Connors is an American jazz drummer, composer, arranger, and producer who has led some influential jazz and R&B groups. He also achieved several big R&B hits of the day, especially with love ballads. He is possibly best known for the 1976 hit, "You Are My Starship" on which lead vocals were sung by Michael Henderson.

Columbia Records American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

Arista Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment and previously handled by Bertelsmann Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for Columbia Records. Until its demise in 2011, it was a major distributor and promoter of albums throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Today, the label's reissues and catalogue releases are handled by RCA Records and Legacy Recordings.

Around this time, Johnson was writing, arranging and also playing keyboards on recording sessions, including for the Willie Lester-Rodney Brown production team that released several successful disco/soul albums on Prelude in the early 1980s, with acts such as Sharon Redd, Bobby Thurston and Gayle Adams.

Sharon Redd American musician

Sharon Redd was an American singer from New York. She was the half sister of R&B singer Pennye Ford.

Gayle Adams is an American urban contemporary and house music musician, who is best known for her hit singles "Love Fever", "Stretch'in Out" and "Your Love Is A Lifesaver." She recorded two albums for the dance-oriented Prelude record label in the early 1980s, which were written and produced by the Washington D.C. based record producers, Willie Lester and guitarist Rodney Brown. Adams most successful single was 1981's, "Love Fever" which reached number six on the US dance charts, and number 24 on the soul singles chart. "Stretch'in Out" peaked at number 64 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1980. Her most recent hit single was "I'm Warning You" (1984).

In the 1990s, Johnson worked with The Whispers on several albums and, in 1999, released another solo album for an independent label, Clout. Johnson re-formed the Unifics with original group member Tom Fauntleroy, and also toured with a solo gospel show. The group issued a new album, Unifics Return in 2005.

The Whispers are an American group from Los Angeles, California, who have scored hit records since the late 1960s. The Whispers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, and were winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 2008. By popular vote, the group was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012, and The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Johnson, aged 65, died on October 26, 2013. [4]

Discography

Albums

Chart singles

YearTitleLabel & Cat. No. U.S. R&B
chart position [5]
1980"I'm Back For More"
(with Jean Carn)
Columbia 1120726
"I've Got My Second Wind"Columbia 1128758

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References

  1. Ron Wynn. "The Unifics | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  2. 1 2 "Al Johnson | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  3. Ed Hogan (2013-08-05). "I'm Back for More - Al Johnson | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  4. "Legendary soul singer Al Johnson dies at age 65 | SoulTracks - Soul Music Biographies, News and Reviews". SoulTracks. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  5. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 229.