- 1977 Jimmy Johnson & Luther Johnson, MCM
- 1978 Tobacco Road [live] , MCM
- 1979 Johnson’s Whacks, Delmark
- 1982 North/South, Delmark
- 1983 Bar Room Preacher, Alligator
- 1995 I’m a Jockey, Verve
- 1999 Every Road Ends, Ruf
Roots and Influences: Kenny Burrell, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Freddie King, Magic Sam, Otis Rush
Performed songs by: Jessie Mae Robinson and Elmore James
Worked with: Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Little Milton, Harvey Thompson, Wolf Stephenson, Charles Rose, Tommy Couch, Thomisine Anderson, Barry Beckett, Jewel Bass, Carson Whitsett, Dino Zimmerman, James Robertson, Clayton Ivey, Jerry Masters, Eddie Hinton, Harrison Calloway, Jim Horn
by Omini Parks (SHS)
Jimmy Johnson, a Chicago guitarist, released his first record when he was 50 years old. He made up for lost time by establishing himself as Chicago’s premier blues musician. His guitar style was unique and unpredictable. The delivery of his vocals was well known,and he rose above all others.
Jimmy Thompson was born into a family that was musically inclined in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He and his family moved to Chicago in 1950. Jimmy only played the guitar as a hobby for a long time. His brother Syl Johnson was the one who starred on the blues circuit. In 1959, Jimmy began to set up gigs with harpist Slim Willis. As time passed, Jimmy Thompson changed his last name to Johnson. He wanted to keep up with his brother Syl.
Although it is not actually known, there was more cash in playing R&B in the 1960’s, so Jimmy Johnson focused more on that aspect of his career for a while. He was the lead in polished house bands on the West and South sides. He led behind Otis Clay, Denise LaSalle, and Garland Green. He produced a few instrumental 45’s on the side. Jimmy Johnson finally made his way back to his blues foundation in 1974 as the rhythm guitarist for Jimmy Dawkins. Johnson went on tours in Japan with Otis Clay in 1975.
In 1978, Johnson’s star began to sky rocket with the release of four incredible sides on Living Chicago Blues anthologies, Alligator’s first batch. Johnson’s Whacks, his first full domestic set on Delmark the next year, also added to his success. The guitarist’s 1982 Delmark follow-up, North/South, and the 1983 release of Bar Room Preacher by Alligator continued to send Johnson’s career soaring into the number one rank of blues in Chicago. Hard times came on December 2, 1988. While driving his band van, Jimmy Johnson swerved off the road in downstate Indiana. The accident killed bassist Larry Exum and keyboardist St. James Bryant. Of course, Johnson also sustained injuries in the accident. He lost interest in expanding his career. Now, he’s back in business. Johnson cut a solid set, I’m a Jockey, for Verve in 1994. It brightens his blues-soul synthesis with effectiveness. Johnson followed his new hit with Every Road Ends in 1999.