Johnny “Man” Young - Honoring Black History


Johnny “Man” Young (1918-1974) transformed mandolin playing in American blues music’s postwar era. Originating from Vicksburg, Mississippi, Johnny played in local string bands throughout the 30s before moving to Chicago in the 1940. Just three years later he was playing with Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. Near the end of that decade, Young made a name for himself on Maxwell Street by playing in clubs with his cousin, guitarist Johnny Williams, and a singer and harmonica player named Little Walter. Williams joined Young on his first recording in 1947 before pairing up again the following year, accompanied by Snooky Pryor on harmonica. That 1948 record was released under his nickname “Man” Young which came from the “man” in mandolin. Johnny was one of the very few mandolin artists on the Blues scene post-World War II, and remains one of the only prominent Black mandolin players in the history of the Blues genre.