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Books > Arts & Photography > Music > Musical Genres > Blues > B00JV1BV16
  1. The Original Guitar Hero and the Power of Music: The Legendary Lonnie Johnson, Music, and Civil Rights (North Texas Lives of Musician Series)
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  2. The Original Guitar Hero and the Power of Music: The Legendary Lonnie Johnson, Music, and Civil Rights (North Texas Lives of Musician Series)

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    Customer Ratings (9 reviews)
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Additional Information

Lonnie Johnson (1894–1970) was a virtuoso guitarist who influenced generations of musicians from Django Reinhardt to Eric Clapton to Bill Wyman and especially B. B. King. Born in New Orleans, he began playing violin and guitar in his father’s band at an early age. When most of his family was wiped out by the 1918 flu epidemic, he and his surviving brother moved to St. Louis, where he won a blues contest that included a recording contract. His career was launched. Johnson can be heard on many Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong records, including the latter’s famous “Savoy Blues” with the Hot Five. He is perhaps best known for his 12-string guitar solos and his ground-breaking recordings with the white guitarist Eddie Lang in the late 1920s. After World War II he began playing rhythm and blues and continued to record and tour until his death. This is the first full-length work on Johnson. Dean Alger answers many biographical mysteries, including how many members of Johnson’s large family were left after the epidemic. It also places Johnson and his musical contemporaries in the context of American race relations and argues for the importance of music in the fight for civil rights. Finally, Alger analyzes Johnson’s major recordings in terms of technique and style. Distribution of an accompanying music CD will be coordinated with the release of this book.

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Dean Alger
Kindle Edition
Kindle eBook
University of North Texas Press
University of North Texas Press
University of North Texas Press
University of North Texas Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Although I certainly appreciate Mr Alger's desire to shine a light on the much undervalued Lonnie Johnson, this book simply is not very good. On many occasions throughout the text various quotes are sited regarding other musicians, often Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong, saying something positive about them, with an immediate follow up such as "the same can be said of Lonnie Johnson" or "This also applies to Lonnie Johnson", etc. The overall feeling is that the author is trying very hard to make it seem that these artists & writers are discussing LJ when in fact they often have never mentioned him during any interview! They may very well have similar feelings regarding him, but in the absence of actual quotes, wishful thinking does not make it true. Mainly the book comes off as sounding like a member of a religious cult trying very hard to convince outsiders that the "leader" he is following (in this case Lonnie Johnson) is the "one true God". The... Read more
Important subject - lots of research - nearly intolerable writing. I am an avid reader of biographies, especially about the early blues musicians. Lonnie Johnson in an incredibly important and gifted artist in this field. There was clearly a tremendous amount of research that went into creating the book and the author clearly is enamored with the subject. I found the writing style so awkward and over the top effusive in its praise that I could only read it in bits at a time and it took me about a year and a half to finally finish it. In contrast I read the recent Rev Gary Davis biography in 3 days. The author's superlatives in referring to everything Johnson did were painful to read after awhile (I never want to have to read the word "ultimate" again in a biography - especially not a hundred times). The author also strains very hard to attribute Johnson's influence to many events to which there is barely a connection as well as inflate this perceived influence to unbelievable... Read more
I am still reading this (as well as as about 15 other books!) It's a fascinating tome up to now and an essential buy for all fans of Lonnie Johnson. It must be the definitive work likely to be issued and does not seem to include too much musicology-thank goodness! Includes a much needed update on St. Louis, Missouri which gets a whole chapter to itself. .
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