General Johnson: Lead singer with Chairmen of the Board

With such good-natured and infectious songs as "Give Me Just A Little More Time" and "You've Got Me Dangling On A String", the Chairmen of the Board became disco favourites in the early 1970s.

Their lead singer, General Johnson, was a fine songwriter, describing his early life, with a few changes, in "Patches", a Grammy award winning record for Clarence Carter in 1973.

General Norman Johnson was born in Norfolk, Virginia in May 1943, General being a family name. The young boy preferred Norman but when he started making records, he was told that General was more distinctive.

His father was a shipyard worker who sang gospel music. He encouraged his son to sing, giving him playful slaps whenever he hit wrong notes. From the age of 12, Johnson was part of a neighbourhood group, the Humdingers, and they performed locally, once supporting the rhythm and blues star, Ruth Brown.

The Humdingers were spotted by Allen Toussaint, who wrote theirfirst record, "It Will Stand", changing their name to the Showmen. LikeDanny and the Juniors' "Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay", "It Will Stand" was a cheerful testimony to the enduring power of the new music, an unusual thought for 1961. The Showmen recorded "39-21-40" (wrongly printed on the label as "39-21-46"), whichJohnson had written when 14. He wrote several songs for the group and Toussaint gave him the sound advice that it was quality and not quantity that mattered.

The Showmen continued until 1967. Johnson planned a solo career, but was invited to join a new label, Invictus, whose proprietors were the former Motown songwriting and production team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland. They formed the Chairmen Of The Board with Johnson, Eddie Curtis, Harrison Kennedy and Danny Woods. The label's first hits, both in 1970, were "Band Of Gold" for Freda Payne and "Give Me Just A Little More Time" on which the Chairmen Of The Board sounded like the Isley Brothers. They had two more UK Top 20 hits with "You've Got Me Dangling On A String" and "Everything's Tuesday" and Johnson co-wrote their chart entries, "Pay To The Piper" (1970), "Elmo James" (1972) and "Finders Keepers" (1973).

Johnson was a strong lyricist and he rewrote the Honey Cones' "Want Ads" (1971) so that it no longer sounded like a prostitute looking for work. He wrote the anti-Vietnam song, "Bring The Boys Home" for Freda Payne and "Somebody's Been Sleeping (In My Bed)" for 100 Proof Aged In Soul, both 1970. His best composition was his coming-of age song, "Patches", originally recorded by the Chairmen Of The Board.

When the Chairmen of the Board toured the UK in 1975, only Johnson and Woods remained from the original line-up, and Johnson described the litigation that was destroying Invictus. Lamont Dozier, Freda Payne and several artists had left. Johnson was unhappy that unfinished tracks had been released on the album, The Skin I'm In, and he was not allowed to record as Chairmen Of The Board as Invictus owned the name.

Johnson recorded a solo album, General Johnson, for Arista in 1979 and worked and recorded as Chairmen Of The Board around Carolina. He turned down a national deal from Berry Gordy, the head of Motown, because he had had enough of company politics. His beach party song, "Carolina Girls" (1980), became a local anthem. The Chairman Of The Board continued working to the present, with a new album, Treasure Chest, about to be released.

General Norman Johnson, singer and songwriter: born Norfolk, Virginia, 23 May 1943; married (two sons, one daughter); died Atlanta 13 October 2010.

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil