Syl Johnson

Real Name:
Sylvester Thompson
Profile:
b. 1st July 1936, Holly Springs, Mississippi, U.S.A.

American funk/soul/blues singer and music producer.

Johnson sang and played with blues artists Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 1950s, before recording with Jimmy Reed for Vee Jay Records in 1959. He made his solo debut that same year with Federal Records (2), a subsidiary of King Records (3) of Cincinnati, backed by Freddie King on guitar.

He then began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago in the mid 1960s. Beginning with his first hit, Come On Sock It to Me in 1967, Johnson dominated the label as both a hitmaker and producer.

Like other black songwriters of the period, several of his records at this time explored themes of African-American identity and social problems in songs including Is It Because I’m Black, which reached Number 11 in the R&B charts in 1969.

In 1971, Willie Mitchell brought Johnson to Hi Records, for whom he recorded three albums and a number of singles. Produced in Memphis with the Hi house band, these yielded music of power and enduring value, including the hits We Did It, Back for a Taste of Your Love and Take Me to the River, his biggest success, reaching Number 7 on the R&B charts in 1975. However, at Hi Johnson was always to some extent in Al Green’s shadow commercially, if not artistically.

After the Hi years ended, Johnson produced two LPs for his own label Shama, the latter of which (Ms. Fine Brown Frame, 1982) was picked up for distribution by Boardwalk Records, Inc. and produced Johnson’s last hit record, the title cut.

Around the mid-eighies, Johnson started a fast-food fish restaurant business, and became semi-retired from performing, only making occasional appearances at blues club gigs.

In 1992, Johnson found out that his classic song Different Strokes have been sampled by number of rappers including Wu-Tang Clan, MC Hammer, and Geto Boys. Stimulated by this fact, he decided to make a come back in the music business. In 1994, he released the album Back in the Game on Delmark Records. The album featured the the Hi rhythm section and his youngest daughter Syleena Johnson.

Blues guitarist and singer Jimmy Johnson (8), and bassist Mack Thompson are his brothers.
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Albums

LPS-1001, LPS 1001 Syl Johnson - Dresses Too Short album art Syl Johnson Dresses Too Short (Album) Twinight Records, Twinight Records LPS-1001, LPS 1001 US 1968 Sell This Version
LPS 1002 Syl Johnson - Is It Because I'm Black album art Syl Johnson Is It Because I'm Black (Album) Twinight Records, Twinight Records LPS 1002 US 1970 Sell This Version
XSHL 32081 Syl Johnson - Back For A Taste Of Your Love album art Syl Johnson Back For A Taste Of Your Love (Album) Hi Records XSHL 32081 US 1973 Sell This Version
SHL 32085 Syl Johnson - Diamond In The Rough album art Syl Johnson Diamond In The Rough (Album) Hi Records, Hi Records, London Records, London Records SHL 32085 Jamaica 1974 Sell This Version
SHL 5-32096 Syl Johnson - Total Explosion album art Syl Johnson Total Explosion (Album) Hi Records SHL 5-32096 US 1975 Sell This Version
9357-6010 Syl Johnson - Uptown Shakedown album art Syl Johnson Uptown Shakedown (Album) Hi Records 9357-6010 Canada 1979 Sell This Version
SHL 8001 Syl Johnson - Brings Out The Blues In Me album art Syl Johnson Brings Out The Blues In Me (Album) Shama Records SHL 8001 US 1980 Sell This Version
NB-33260-1 Syl Johnson - Ms. Fine Brown Frame album art Syl Johnson Ms. Fine Brown Frame (Album) The Boardwalk Entertainment Co, Erect Records NB-33260-1 US 1982 Sell This Version
900.517 Syl Johnson - Suicide Blues album art Syl Johnson Suicide Blues(LP, Album) Isabel Records 900.517 France 1985 Sell This Version
SH 8003 C Syl Johnson - Foxy Brown album art Sylvester Johnson* Foxy Brown (Album) Shama Records SH 8003 C US 1988 Sell This Version
DC-674 Syl Johnson - Back In the Game album art Syl Johnson With Hi Rhythm Syl Johnson With Hi Rhythm - Back In the Game (Album) Delmark Records DC-674 US 1994 Sell This Version
TRI0001 Syl Johnson - This Time Together By Father And Daughter album art Syl Johnson & Syleena Johnson Syl Johnson & Syleena Johnson - This Time Together By Father And Daughter(CD, Album) Twinight Records TRI0001 US 1995 Sell This Version
ANT0041 Syl Johnson - Bridge To Legacy album art Syl Johnson Bridge To Legacy (Album) Antone's Records ANT0041 US 1998 Sell This Version
DE-729 Syl Johnson - Talkin' Bout Chicago! album art Syl Johnson Talkin' Bout Chicago! (Album) Delmark Records DE-729 US 1999 Sell This Version
H0082CD Syl Johnson - Hands Of Time album art Syl Johnson Hands Of Time(CD, Album) Hep' Me Records H0082CD US 1999 Sell This Version
GEL 4028 Syl Johnson - Two Johnsons Are Better Than One album art Syl Johnson & Jimmy Johnson (8) Syl Johnson & Jimmy Johnson (8) - Two Johnsons Are Better Than One (Album) Evangeline Records GEL 4028 UK 2001 Sell This Version
NUM032.2, LP8030 Syl Johnson - Do You Know What Soul Is? album art Syl Johnson Do You Know What Soul Is?(LP, Album) Numero Group, TRIP NUM032.2, LP8030 US 2010 Sell This Version
LPS-1003, 032.4 Syl Johnson - My Funky Funky Band album art Syl Johnson My Funky Funky Band(LP, Album) Twinight Records, Numero Group LPS-1003, 032.4 US Unknown Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

12358 Syl Johnson - Teardrops / They Who Love album art Syl Johnson Teardrops / They Who Love (Single) Federal (5) 12358 US 1959 Sell This Version
45-12374 Syl Johnson - I've Got Love / Lonely Man album art Syl Johnson I've Got Love / Lonely Man (Single) Federal (5) 45-12374 US 1960 Sell This Version
45-12435 Syl Johnson - I've Got To Find My Baby/(She's So Fine) I Just Gotta Make Her Mine album art Syl Johnson I've Got To Find My Baby/(She's So Fine) I Just Gotta Make Her Mine (Single) Federal (5) 45-12435 US 1961 Sell This Version
45-12476 Syl Johnson - Please, Please, Please / I'm Looking For My Baby album art Syl Johnson Please, Please, Please / I'm Looking For My Baby (Single) Federal (5) 45-12476 US 1962 Sell This Version
F 12454 Syl Johnson - Little Sally Walker / I Resign From Your Love album art Syl Johnson Little Sally Walker / I Resign From Your Love Federal (5) F 12454 US 1962 Sell This Version
45-12474 Syl Johnson - I Wanna Know / Well Oh Well album art Syl Johnson I Wanna Know / Well Oh Well(7") Federal (5) 45-12474 US 1962 Sell This Version
EMB E.P. 4535 Syl Johnson - Rhythm & Blues Volume Four - Blue Beat Style album art Lulu Reed* / Syl Johnson Lulu Reed* / Syl Johnson - Rhythm & Blues Volume Four - Blue Beat Style(7", EP) Ember Records EMB E.P. 4535 UK 1964 Sell This Version