And yes, his real name was “General”. This has been a tough week for the expiry dates on music legends. My wish is that Solomon Burke and now General Norman Johnson are residing in that house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
I couldn’t begin to recall exactly the number of times The Chairmen of the Board fronted the college era summer parties and fraternity weekends that are so indelibly part of the best days of my life. I just wish that I could remember them more clearly. I’m fairly certain though, that a good time was had by all. Five gets ten that it was General Johnson and the Chairmen that I was shagging to in the photo above.
And I remember getting a bit too festive at J.D.W.’s twenty first birthday party at the Florence Country Club…something told me to get on stage with The Chairmen of the Board. Danny Wood (red outfit above) had no trouble picking all one hundred and twenty pounds of my ass up, smiling the whole time, still singing Everything’s Tuesday, while depositing me back down on the dance floor. I think my date had already left me.
And what was it about the song Dangling on a String that made everybody think, at three in the morning, awash in warm beer, that they sang this song well. I know that I sang it loudly more than once to my date…and if not mine, probably yours.
But it wasn’t just The Chairmen of the Board that girds Johnson’s legacy. He first began with The Showmen and charted It Will Stand and 39-21-40 Shape with The Showmen, before Chairmen of the Board.
He won a Grammy for Patches…the song that launched Clarence Carter and I just learned that he wrote Want Ads and One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show.
R.I.P. General Johnson. And thanks for the fun.