Tommy Johnson

Tommy Johnson

Born: 1886 in Terry, Mississippi (USA).
Died: Nov 1, 1956 in Crystal Springs , Mississippi (USA).

Style: Delta Blues

Johnson was a hell-raiser who could belt out the blues with a wide vocal range, from a low throaty snarl to a high falsetto. He had a dramatic flair in performance similar to his contemporary, Delta blues king Charley Patton, and in the early, pre-Robert Johnson days his influence on the genre was second only to that of Patton and Son House. He was not a virtuoso on the guitar, but had an original, evocative style, well-matched to his theatrical delivery. Johnson significantly influenced blues greats Muddy Waters, Robert Nighthawk and especially Howlin' Wolf, who would carry on and even outdo the Patton/Johnson tradition of incendiary, down-and-dirty showmanship. Johnson was also the quintessential blues bad boy, with a penchant for rampant womanizing and for alcohol, the latter of which led him to drastic extremes. He was known to down denatured alcohol, used for artificial heat, when the real thing wasn't available, a habit he documented in his original song "Canned Heat," from which the 1960s blues-rock group took its name.

A heart attack brought his life to a close.
Johnson only recorded for two years, from 1928 to 1930. Although, he only left behind a small collection of recordings, they were outstanding, almost all of which to became classics.

Essential listening: "Maggie Campbell," "Big Road Blues," "Cool Drink of Water," "Canned Heat"

Tommy Johnson Discography

Singles & EPs

21409 Tommy Johnson Bye Bye Blues / Maggie Campbel Blues(Shellac, 10") Victor 21409 US 1928 Sell This Version
21279 Tommy Johnson Cool Drink Of Water Blues / Big Road Blues(Shellac, 10") Victor 21279 US 1928 Sell This Version
V-38535 Tommy Johnson Canned Heat Blues / Big Fat Mama Blues(Shellac, 10") Victor V-38535 US 1929 Sell This Version
12950 Tommy Johnson Alcohol And Jake Blues / Ridin' Horse(Shellac, 10") Paramount 12950 US 1930 Sell This Version
12975 Tommy Johnson Slidin' Delta / I Wonder To Myself(Shellac, 10") Paramount 12975 US 1930 Sell This Version


Tommy Johnson Canned Heat Blues - Complete Recordings In Chronological Order (1928-1929) (Comp, Album) Wolf Records (2), Wolf Records (2), Wolf Records (2) Austria 1983 Sell This Version
BT2010 Tommy Johnson, Sleepy John Estes Tommy Johnson, Sleepy John Estes - 1928 - 1930(LP, Comp) Swingtime BT2010 Italy 1989 Sell This Version
KATCD118 Tommy Johnson Tommy Johnson & Associates(CD, Comp) Catfish Records KATCD118 1999 Sell This Version
JSP7715 Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey* Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey* - Legends Of Country Blues (The Complete Pre-War Recordings Of)(5xCD, Comp, RM) JSP Records JSP7715 UK 2003 Sell This Version
Tommy Johnson & Ishman Bracey Tommy Johnson & Ishman Bracey - Canned Heat Blues (The Legendary 1928 Memphis Sessions) (Comp) JSP Records Austria 1969 Sell This Version