Lonnie Johnson - Honoring Black History
Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson (1899–1970) was an American blues and jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter. He was a pioneer of jazz guitar and jazz violin and is recognized as the first to play an electrically amplified violin. Johnson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in a family of musicians. Johnson's early recordings are the first guitar recordings that display a single-note soloing style with string bending and vibrato. Johnson pioneered this style of guitar playing on records, and his influence is obvious in the playing of Django Reinhardt, T-Bone Walker and virtually all electric blues guitarists.
He pioneered the guitar solo on the track "6/88 Glide", and excelled at purely instrumental pieces, some of which he recorded with the white jazz guitarist Eddie Lang. These recordings were among the first to feature black and white musicians performing together, although Lang was credited as Blind Willie Dunn to disguise the fact. After World War II, Johnson made the transition to rhythm and blues, recording for King in Cincinnati and having a hit in 1948 with "Tomorrow Night" written by Sam Coslow and Will Grosz. It topped the Billboard Race Records chart for 7 weeks and reached number 19 on the pop chart with sales of three million copies.
Bob Dylan wrote about the performing method he learned from Robert Johnson and remarked that Robert Johnson had learned a lot from Lonnie Johnson. Some of Robert Johnson's songs are seen as new versions of songs recorded by Lonnie Johnson.