Category: the brothers johnson

On this day in music history: August 6, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: August 6, 1977 – “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on September 24, 1977. Written by Shuggie Otis, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Funk duo from Los Angeles, CA. Musician Shuggie Otis (son of bandleader Johnny Otis) is inspired to write the song by his girlfriend who had sent him numerous letters scented with Strawberry perfume. After the couple exchange 22 letters between them, he writes the song as the 23rd letter to her. The song originally appears on Otis’ 1971 album “Freedom Flight”, which George Johnson hears after receiving a copy from one of Otis’ cousins whom he is dating at the time. The brothers cover the song when working on their second album with producer Quincy Jones. George and Louis record the track accompanied by Harvey Mason (drums), Ian Underwood and Dave Grusin(keyboards), Ralph MacDonald (percussion) and Lee Ritenour (guitar), who play the songs guitar solo. Released as the first single from “Right On Time” in June of 1977, it becomes an immediate hit on R&B radio, quickly becoming a pop crossover smash. Running an even five minutes on the album, it is trimmed down to 3:39 for the commercially released 45. That edit later appears on the brothers’ greatest hits album “Blast!” in 1982, and CD compilations “The Best Of The Brothers Johnson” and “Classic”. A&M Records also releases an extended 12" version of “Strawberry Letter 23” (along with the long version of “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” on the B-side), pressed on clear “strawberry red” vinyl and packaged in a custom 12" jacket. Over the years, the song has been featured in a number of films and television programs. Director Quentin Tarantino features “Strawberry Letter 23” in his films “Pulp Fiction” and “Jackie Brown”, and it is also heard in episodes of “Nip/Tuck” and “Six Feet Under”.  It is has also been sampled numerous times, by DJ Quik, St. Lunatics, and Das EFX. Singer Tevin Campbell records a cover version for his 1991 debut album “T.E.V.I.N., produced by Quincy Jones, the original producer of The Brothers Johnson’s hit rendition. "Strawberry Letter 23” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: July 28, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: July 28, 1978 – “Blam!”, the third album by The Brothers Johnson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at A&R Recording Studios in New York City, Cherokee Studios and Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA from January – April 1978. Following two consecutive Platinum selling albums, The Brothers Johnson begin work on the follow up to “Right On Time”. Working once again with producer Quincy Jones, the sessions begins just as he is wrapping up recording sessions for the film soundtrack of “The Wiz”, and as he is concurrently recording his album “Sounds… And Stuff Like That”. With all of these projects in various stages of production, a number of musicians from the two other albums also work on George and Louis’ album. Those musicians include Harvey Mason (drums), Richard Tee, David Foster, Steve Porcaro (keyboards), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), Eddie “Bongo” Brown (percussion), Larry Carlton, Steve Khan (guitars), The Seawind Horns (Jerry Hey, Larry Williams, Gary Grant, Kim Hutchcroft, William Reichenbach) and The New York Super Singers (Patti Austin, Gwen Guthrie, Tom Bahler, Ullanda McCullough, Vivian Cherry, Frank Floyd, Bobby Floyd, Raymond Simpson, William Eaton, Zachary Sanders). Brothers Johnson band members Alex Weir (guitars), Wayne Vaughn (keyboards) Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet, backing vocals) and Richard Heath (vocals) also participate in the sessions. The brothers co-write much of the album either together or with the other session musicians. The end result is a tight cohesive work that hits even harder than the previous two albums, and is regarded by fans as one of their best. In spite of the fact that does not spin off a major hit single, it quickly rises up the charts and becomes The Brothers Johnson’s third consecutive million selling album. It spins off two singles including “Ride-O-Rocket” (#45 R&B, #104 Pop Bubbling Under) written by Ashford & Simpson, and the blistering opening track “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now” (#45 R&B, #102 Pop Bubbling Under). The LP’s striking cover artwork, featuring a painting of The Brothers Johnson on the front gatefold is by artist Drew Struzan of the famed L.A. design studio Pacific Eye & Ear (Alice Cooper, Bee Gees, Jefferson Airplane). Besides the standard LP release, A&M Records also issues “Blam!” as  limited edition picture disc, with the UK release having a limited press run on white vinyl. First remastered and reissued on CD in 1996, the album is reissued again in 2012 by UK reissue label Soul Music.com/Cherry Red Records, with it containing the single edit of “Ride” as a bonus track. “Blam!” spends seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: June 12, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1976 – “I’ll Be Good To You” by The Brothers Johnson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 10, 1976. Written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Senora Sam, it is the first chart topping single for the R&B/Funk duo from Los Angeles, CA. Prodigious musical talents from childhood, brothers George and Louis Johnson get their initial break in the music business when they are both hired as members of musician Billy Preston’s band when they are barely out of high school. In early 1975, after they leave Preston’s band, the brothers are spotted by producer Quincy Jones when they are auditioning for Stevie Wonder’s touring band at The Record Plant in Los Angeles. Extremely impressed, Jones asks George and Louis if they will work with him on “Mellow Madness”, the album he is currently recording. They accept Jones’ offer and play on the album, as well as George co-writing and singing lead on the first single “Is It Love That We’re Missin’” (#18 R&B, #70 Pop). Shortly after that success, The Brothers Johnson are signed to A&M Records, and begin work on their debut album with Quincy Jones producing. While working on material for the album, they choose ten songs out of a possible two hundred for the final group selected to record. Inspired by his girlfriend (and later wife) Debbie Smith, George begins writing what becomes “I’ll Be Good To You”, collaborating with his brother Louis. A mutual friend of their named Senora Sam hears the song as a work in progress, contributing  lyrics to the song, including the line “the way we stand, and the way we lie”. Released as the first single from their debut album “Look Out For #1” in February of 1976, “I’ll Be Good To You” quickly becomes a hit on R&B radio, then a pop crossover smash. Some promotional 45’s serviced to radio stations, feature an alternate mix with double tracked lead vocals and additional synthesizer overdubs, that is quickly replaced by an edited version of the album mix for the commercial release. The song is revisited by Quincy Jones in 1989 when he re-records it with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan for his album “Back On The Block”. Jones’ version also tops the R&B singles chart in October of 1989, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1991. The Brothers Johnson’s original version of “I’ll Be Good To You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – “Right On Time”. the second album by The Brothers Johnson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at A&M Recording Studio “B” in Hollywood, CA from February 1 – March 21, 1977. With their Platinum selling debut “Look Out For #1” having spent most of 1976 on the charts, brothers George and Louis Johnson turn their attention to working on the follow up release in early 1977. Collaborating again with Quincy Jones, they work with several of the same musicians that had played on the previous album including Harvey Mason (drums), Dave Grusin and Ian Underwood (keyboards). The Tower Of Power Horns (Mic Gillette, Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka, Greg Adams and Lenny Pickett) are also featured on the album. Working out their label’s studios on the famed Chaplin Lot in Hollywood, the album is engineered by veteran A&M staff engineer Norm Kinney, along with Chuck Trammell and Don Hahn. Seven of the eight songs included on “Right On Time” are written by George and Louis (either together or with others), with one exception. The brothers decide to record a cover of multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis’ (the son of R&B music pioneer and band Johnny Otis) song “Strawberry Letter 23” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop). George hears it when he is dating Otis’ cousin after she turns him on to Shuggie’s 1971 album “Freedom Flight” that the song is featured on. Together with Jones, George and Louis come up with a new funky arrangement for the song, with guitarist Lee Ritenour playing the memorable solo at the instrumental break. It’s released as the first single from the album in early June of 1977 and quickly turns into an R&B and pop crossover smash, becoming The Brothers Johnson’s second million selling single. It is followed by the laid back groove “Runnin’ For Your Lovin” (#20 R&B, #107 Pop) in the Fall. The instrumental track “Q”, named for their producer and mentor wins them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1978. Original vinyl copies of the album come packaged with a full color eight page booklet featuring song lyrics, credits and photos. First released on CD in 1986 (Japan only), it is remastered and reissued in 1996 in the US. “Right On Time” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

Born on this day: April 13, 1955 – Bassist ext…

Born on this day: April 13, 1955 – Bassist extraordinaire Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson (born in Los Angeles, CA). Happy to this great musician on what would have been his 64th Birthday.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: April 5, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: April 5, 1980 – “Stomp!” by The Brothers Johnson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, topping the Club Play chart for 3 weeks on April 12, 1980, and peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on May 24, 1980. Written by Louis Johnson, George Johnson, Valerie Johnson and Rod Temperton, it is the third R&B chart topper for the Los Angeles, CA based R&B/Funk duo consisting of brothers George and Louis Johnson. Producer Quincy Jones initiates the writing of the song by giving George Johnson the title and challenges him to write a song with that title. Jones also have the brothers collaborate with songwriter Rod Temperton (“Rock With You”, “Off The Wall”) of the band Heatwave. The trio along with Louis’ wife Valerie write the music together, with the instrumental track being cut shortly after. Following the initial tracking session, George goes back home and writes the lyrics and melody. After spending over eighteen hours writing and re-writing, George returns to the studio the next day with the completed lyrics. He records the majority of his lead vocal on the first take. Released as the first single from The Brothers Johnson’s fourth album “Light Up The Night” in February of 1980, “Stomp!” is an instant classic. Powered by catchy, infectious hooks and Louis Johnson’s epic percussive bass solo, the single becomes a dance floor staple and one of their signature songs. The success of “Stomp!” drives the “Light Up The Night” album to Platinum status in the US, becoming their fourth to reach that sales plateau. Quincy Jones covers “Stomp!” himself on the album “Q’s Jook Joint” in 1995. Jones’ version features Chaka Khan, Charlie Wilson, Shaquille O’Neal, Coolio, Melle Mel, Luniz, Mr. X. Yo Yo, and cast members of the musical “Stomp!”.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: August 6, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: August 6, 1977 – “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on September 24, 1977. Written by Shuggie Otis, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Funk duo from Los Angeles, CA. Musician Shuggie Otis (son of bandleader Johnny Otis) is inspired to write the song by his girlfriend who had sent him numerous letters scented with Strawberry perfume. After the couple exchange 22 letters between them, he writes the song as the 23rd letter to her. The song originally appears on Otis’ 1971 album “Freedom Flight”, which George Johnson hears after receiving a copy from one of Otis’ cousins whom he is dating at the time. The brothers cover the song when working on their second album with producer Quincy Jones. George and Louis record the track accompanied by Harvey Mason (drums), Ian Underwood and Dave Grusin(keyboards), Ralph MacDonald (percussion) and Lee Ritenour (guitar), who play the songs guitar solo. Released as the first single from “Right On Time” in June of 1977, it becomes an immediate hit on R&B radio, quickly becoming a pop crossover smash. Running an even five minutes on the album, it is trimmed down to 3:39 for the commercially released 45. That edit later appears on the brothers’ greatest hits album “Blast!” in 1982, and CD compilations “The Best Of The Brothers Johnson” and “Classic”. A&M Records also releases an extended 12" version of “Strawberry Letter 23” (along with the long version of “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” on the B-side), pressed on clear “strawberry red” vinyl and packaged in a custom 12" jacket. Over the years, the song has been featured in a number of films and television programs. Director Quentin Tarantino features “Strawberry Letter 23” in his films “Pulp Fiction” and “Jackie Brown”, and it is also heard in episodes of “Nip/Tuck” and “Six Feet Under”.  It is has also been sampled numerous times, by DJ Quik, St. Lunatics, and Das EFX. Singer Tevin Campbell records a cover version for his 1991 debut album “T.E.V.I.N., produced by Quincy Jones, the original producer of The Brothers Johnson’s hit rendition. "Strawberry Letter 23” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 28, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: July 28, 1978 – “Blam!”, the third album by The Brothers Johnson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at A&R Recording Studios in New York City, Cherokee Studios and Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA from January – April 1978. Following two consecutive Platinum selling albums, The Brothers Johnson begin work on the follow up to “Right On Time”. Working once again with producer Quincy Jones, the sessions begins just as he is wrapping up recording sessions for the film soundtrack of “The Wiz”, and as he is concurrently recording his album “Sounds… And Stuff Like That”. With all of these projects in various stages of production, a number of musicians from the two other albums also work on George and Louis’ album. Those musicians include Harvey Mason (drums), Richard Tee, David Foster, Steve Porcaro (keyboards), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), Eddie “Bongo” Brown (percussion), Larry Carlton, Steve Khan (guitars), The Seawind Horns (Jerry Hey, Larry Williams, Gary Grant, Kim Hutchcroft, William Reichenbach) and The New York Super Singers (Patti Austin, Gwen Guthrie, Tom Bahler, Ullanda McCullough, Vivian Cherry, Frank Floyd, Bobby Floyd, Raymond Simpson, William Eaton, Zachary Sanders). Brothers Johnson band members Alex Weir (guitars), Wayne Vaughn (keyboards) Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet, backing vocals) and Richard Heath (vocals) also participate in the sessions. The brothers co-write much of the album either together or with the other session musicians. The end result is a tight cohesive work that hits even harder than the previous two albums, and is regarded by fans as one of their best. In spite of the fact that does not spin off a major hit single, it quickly rises up the charts and becomes The Brothers Johnson’s third consecutive million selling album. It spins off two singles including “Ride-O-Rocket” (#45 R&B, #104 Pop Bubbling Under) written by Ashford & Simpson, and the blistering opening track “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now” (#45 R&B, #102 Pop Bubbling Under). The LP’s striking cover artwork, featuring a painting of The Brothers Johnson on the front gatefold is by artist Drew Struzan of the famed L.A. design studio Pacific Eye & Ear (Alice Cooper, Bee Gees, Jefferson Airplane). Besides the standard LP release, A&M Records also issues “Blam!” as  limited edition picture disc, with the UK release having a limited press run on white vinyl. First remastered and reissued on CD in 1996, the album is reissued again in 2012 by UK reissue label Soul Music.com/Cherry Red Records, with it containing the single edit of “Ride” as a bonus track. “Blam!” spends seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 12, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1976 – “I’ll Be Good To You” by The Brothers Johnson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 10, 1976. Written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Senora Sam, it is the first chart topping single for the R&B/Funk duo from Los Angeles, CA. Prodigious musical talents from childhood, brothers George and Louis Johnson get their initial break in the music business when they are both hired as members of musician Billy Preston’s band when they are barely out of high school. In early 1975, after they leave Preston’s band, the brothers are spotted by producer Quincy Jones when they are auditioning for Stevie Wonder’s touring band at The Record Plant in Los Angeles. Extremely impressed, Jones asks George and Louis if they will work with him on “Mellow Madness”, the album he is currently recording. They accept Jones’ offer and play on the album, as well as George co-writing and singing lead on the first single “Is It Love That We’re Missin’” (#18 R&B, #70 Pop). Shortly after that success, The Brothers Johnson are signed to A&M Records, and begin work on their debut album with Quincy Jones producing. While working on material for the album, they choose ten songs out of a possible two hundred for the final group selected to record. Inspired by his girlfriend (and later wife) Debbie Smith, George begins writing what become “I’ll Be Good To You”, collaborating with his brother Louis. A mutual friend of their named Senora Sam hears the song as a work in progress, contributing  lyrics to the song, including the line “the way we stand, and the way we lie”. Released as the first single from their debut album “Look Out For #1” in February of 1976, “I’ll Be Good To You” quickly becomes a hit on R&B radio, then a pop crossover smash. The song is revisited by Quincy Jones in 1989 when he re-records it with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan for his album “Back On The Block”. Jones’ version also tops the R&B singles chart in October of 1989, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1991. The Brothers Johnson’s original version of “I’ll Be Good To You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – “Right On Time”. the second album by The Brothers Johnson is released. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is recorded at A&M Recording Studio “B” in Hollywood, CA from February 1 – March 21, 1977. With their Platinum selling debut “Look Out For #1” having spent most of 1976 on the charts, brothers George and Louis Johnson turn their attention to working on the follow up release in early 1977. Collaborating again with Quincy Jones, they work with several of the same musicians that had played on the previous album including Harvey Mason (drums), Dave Grusin and Ian Underwood (keyboards). The Tower Of Power Horns (Mic Gillette, Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka, Greg Adams and Lenny Pickett) are also featured on the album. Seven of the eight songs included on “Right On Time” are written by George and Louis (either together or with others), with one exception. The brothers decide to record a cover of multi-instrumentalist Shuggie Otis’ (the son of R&B music pioneer and band Johnny Otis) song “Strawberry Letter 23” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop). George hears it when he is dating Otis’ cousin after she turns him on to Shuggie’s 1971 album “Freedom Flight” that the song is featured on. Together with Jones, George and Louis come up with a new funky arrangement for the song, with guitarist Lee Ritenour playing the memorable solo at the instrumental break. It’s released as the first single from the album in early June of 1977 and quickly turns into an R&B and pop crossover smash, becoming The Brothers Johnson’s second million selling single. It is followed by the laid back groove “Runnin’ For Your Lovin” (#20 R&B, #107 Pop) in the Fall. The instrumental track “Q”, named for their producer and mentor wins them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1978. Original vinyl copies of the album come packaged with a full color eight page booklet featuring song lyrics, credits and photos. First released on CD in 1986 (Japan only), it is remastered and reissued in 1996 in the US. “Right On Time” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.