Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson arrived in Chicago as a young man during the mid50s, when the West Side guitar style (which mixed stinging single-note leads and powerful distorted chords -- because their small bands couldn't afford both a lead and rhythm guitar player -- that influenced folks ranging from Eric Clapton to Mark Knopfler) was being developed by Magic Sam and Otis Rush.
Johnson served as a sideman for both Magic Sam and Muddy Waters, and remains one of the best living West Side bluesfolk, a charismatic man, powerful guitarist and soulful singer. He toured the world with Muddy Waters' band, and shared the stage with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers and Johnny Winter. Since becoming a solo artist, he has also performed with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jerry Garcia, and Bonnie Raitt. He even made a guest appearance in the Blues Brothers movie.
During the late 1970s, Johnson released his first two albums as a leader for France's Black & Blue label. In the US, the Nighthawks featured him on 3 of their Adelphi albums (under the nickname "Guitar Junior") and also invited him to tour with them on several occasions. After leaving Waters' band, Alligator Records recorded 4 Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson pieces for their Living Chicago Blues, Volume 6 anthology album.
Johnson moved to the East Coast and began fronting his own band, the Magic Rockers. His "Walkin' The Dog," recorded live at the Montreux Festival's Blues Night, won a Grammy Award in 1984. His first domestic album as a bandleader, Doin' The Sugar Too (Rooster Blues) with his Magic Rockers and the Roomful of Blues horns, was voted #4 Contemporary Blues Album of the Year and included #2 Blues Song of the Year ("Hard Times") at the 1985 Handy's.
He released I Want To Groove With You is his Bullseye Blues/Rounder 1990 release. His most recent Slammin' on the West Side reels back and forth between jump blues and New Orleans-style funk.
Not to be confused with another Muddy Waters sideman, Luther "Georgia Boy" Johnson or Luther "Houserocker" Johnson.
Got a correction? Click