General Johnson: Lead singer with Chairmen of the Board
Saturday 16 October 2010
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.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...
£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: ICT/Business Studies ...
£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...