Thursday, October 14, 2010

General Norman Johnson R.I.P.

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.



Main Line Sportsman said...

" It will stand" was featured prominently in the soundtrack of the movie "Shag"
Pheobe Cates and Bridget Fonda just burning up the screen in that one...obscure flick but I bet you've seen it.

ADG said...

"Shag" ... Not only do I know the movie well, MainLiner...but the drive-in scene was filmed in my hometown at the iconic Sky View Drive In. R.I.P. General Johnson and R.I.P. the Sky View.

NCJack said...

I recall they always segued from "It Will Stand" into "Hey Baby Will You be my Girl" the dozen or so times I saw them, usually down at the old Beach Club (RIP that one too)

Anonymous said...

You two better rest in peace. Whaterya doin' up at this hour?

garden and gun said...


ADG said...

Garden and Gun...indeed.

AnonymousLateNight...I'll tell you what I was doing up at 2am...and now at 8am I'm paying the price. My best childhood buddy...we've been friends since we were ten years old, is here. He's attending a board meeting today and will be here tonight too. We told great stories last night till way too late. Gonna be a tough one in the office today.

NCJack...I'm just glad that I caught the "tail end" of all of this before it finally started drifting away.

Anonymous said...

The NoVa Shag community (yes, it does exist!) will truly miss The General !
I'm sure there will be tributes tomorrow at Ft. Myer Community Ctr as we dance the night away with Gene and Nancy Pope who are pure Carolina Shag Pro's.

In The Littoral said...

If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven, you know they got a hell of a band! Dave

old said...

ADG - Share your perspective on these two extraordinary performers and their music. From your comments I can't help but believe you were a "King of Gatoring" back in the day. Please tell us true. Have a great weekend!

ADG said...

Old....yes I Gatored and have to this day, scars to prove it!


Annonymous....have fun!

Scott said...

Oh Lord, this makes me sad. Sho 'nuf tough, I never got enough. My wife always rubs it in that she had the Chairmen at her senior prom. My high school had some mangy Skynyrd wannabes.


Anonymous said...

Born and raised in the deep south; descended DIEreckly from 8 consecutive SC gens; partied all over UNC and UVA and UGA and UFL; danced the shag upside and down; ain't nobody no mo suthun than I but hell if I know what "gatored" means less you's talkin about the Florida gators, but somethin tells me you ain't. Pray, King of Gatoring, what is "gatored"?

The Wonder Of It All... said...

ADG, I am blown away. General Johnson joins Joe Poe (of the Tams) in Heaven, where there will be a lot of shag dancing going on.

The Chairmen played such a huge part of my teen and college years. Beach Music concerts in Charlotte, Richmond, North Myrtle and Floyd wouldn't really get going under the Chairmen were on stage. We sang "Give Me Just A Little More Time" outside of more sorority houses than I can recall. When shagging to "Danglin on a String," girls would put their hand over our heads and make a motion as if we were on that string. "Carolina Girls" still fills dance floors in my hometown - young and old women jumping and dancing, heads back, laughing.

Rest in peace Norman Johnson. Thank you for providing part of the soundtrack of my life.

Pigtown*Design said...

ADG needs to make a video of himself gatoring on his gorgeous rugs. K?

ADG said...

MegTown...No video evidence of my debauchery allowed. It was cute--and I was cute...25 years ago.

The Wonderman....ditto. Every bit of what you said.

Flo...Gatoring....1977-1987 phenomenon.

Scott...Senior Prom ... we had some left over from the Kiwanis Dance Lawrence Welk-ers.

Anonymous said...

"It was cute--and I was cute...25 years ago."

You're adorable right now. Gator for us, turn up the volume, get out that iPhone and snap one:

ilovelimegreen said...

If you are going to brag about your gatoring scars, you are obliged to share evidence of said scars.

Ol' Mizzou said...

While I dislike arguing with such a renaissance writer, let me assure the readers that The Alligator and gatoring were practiced in the Valley and many other spots long before 1977. For an in-depth review see