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Brothers Johnson

Brothers Johnson

Pasadena, California -- 1996

That looks like guitarist George Johnson on the left, but who is that on the right? Louis, is that you? Not! The brothers were feuding when I joined the band, and George had called in bassist Andre Berry who did a helluva job filling those big ole funky bass-playing shoes. We all called him Little Brother 'Dre and he became a close friend and the first call bassist with my own LA contemporary jazz band.

Until I started doing gigs with the Brothers Johnson, I had no idea just how many hits they had accumulated since 1976. Every song we played was wildly familiar -- "I'll Be Good To You", Strawberry Letter 23", "Stomp", and "Get Da Funk Out Ma Face", to name a few. What a party to play those tunes live! On the breaks, George had my full attention when he would tell stories of working with Quincy Jones, another of my music business heroes.

George "discovered" me at my regular Tuesday night jazz gig at JAX Bar & Grill in Glendale, California. He and his wife just happened to stop by for dinner and heard my band playing in the bar. He asked for my card and the rest is history.

Speaking of JAX, I'm reminded of another amusing story. One typical Tuesday night at JAX, my band had just launched into our first set. After playing a tune or two, the club manager handed me a piece of paper with a license plate number scribbled on it. When I announced that the owner of the vehicle needed to move their car out of the alley or be towed, the drummer, Bob (name has been changed to protect the guilty), timidly admitted that the car was his. We took a short pause to let him take care of business.

A few moments later a waiter came rushing up to me and urged me to go out back to the alley. He said the cops had our drummer handcuffed and thrown over the side of the squad car! I hurried outside just as Bob was being shoved into the back of the police car and whisked away. Seems the poor guy had one too many unpaid parking tickets and a warrant out for his arrest.

What's a band leader to do now? Well, the show must go on! I immediately got out my musicians phone book, which I always carried with me. I found another drummer in the area who could be there in 45 minutes. The keyboardist, bassist and myself played a lovely low-key set without drums while we waited, and all was well. Oh, and Bob? His girlfriend took care of him.

That reminds me of a joke...What do you call a musician without a girlfriend?


For more about George Johnson and the Brothers Johnson, go to http://home.earthlink.net/~log/G_Johnson.html.