Will Johnson

William K. "Bill" Johnson (died August 13, 1955) was an American jazz banjoist, guitarist, and vocalist.

Johnson was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, where he played locally until relocating to New York in 1926. There he worked with the Dixie Ramblers and George Howe, then joined Luis Russell's orchestra in 1927. He remained with Russell until 1932 and during this time recorded with King Oliver, Red Allen, and Jack Purvis. He worked with Fess Williams in 1933-1934 and continued working actively until the end of the 1930s. After retiring from music he moved back to Lexington; in 1955 he died in a house fire.

He is often confused with William Manuel Johnson, a jazz bassist, in published works.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1905 (Lexington), Died 1955 (Lexington)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1929 - 1931

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar, banjo, tenor guitar, vocalist

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-48333 10-in. 2/1/1929 Call of the freaks King Oliver Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar, banjo  
Victor BVE-48334 10-in. 2/1/1929 The trumpet's prayer King Oliver Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar, banjo  
Victor BVE-49649 10-in. 1/16/1929 Freakish light blues King Oliver Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar, banjo  
Victor BVE-49650 10-in. 1/16/1929 West End blues King Oliver Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar, banjo  
Victor BVE-53929 10-in. 7/17/1929 Feeling drowsy Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-53930 10-in. 7/17/1929 Swing out Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55133 10-in. 7/16/1929 It should be you Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55134 10-in. 7/16/1929 Biff'ly blues Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55852 10-in. 9/24/1929 Make a country bird fly wild Henry Allen ; Four Wanderers ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal quartet instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55853 10-in. 9/24/1929 Funny feathers blues Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra ; Victoria Spivey Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55854 10-in. 9/24/1929 How do they do it that way Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-55855 10-in. 9/24/1929 Pleasing Paul Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-56732 10-in. 10/1/1929 Blood hound blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-56733 10-in. 10/1/1929 Dirty T. B. blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-56734 10-in. 10/1/1929 Moaning the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-56735 10-in. 10/1/1929 Telephoning the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57080 10-in. 11/13/1929 Sweet Peter Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57081 10-in. 11/13/1929 Jersey Joe Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57082 10-in. 11/13/1929 Mississippi Mildred Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57083 10-in. 11/13/1929 Mint julep Jelly Roll Morton ; Red Hot Peppers Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57554 10-in. 11/25/1929 Day breakin' blues Sweet Peas Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental quartet instrumentalist, tenor guitar  
Victor BVE-57555 10-in. 11/25/1929 Heartbreakin' blues Sweet Peas Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental quartet instrumentalist, tenor guitar  
Victor BVE-57556 10-in. 11/25/1929 Leavin' you baby Sweet Peas Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental quartet instrumentalist, tenor guitar  
Victor BVE-57557 10-in. 11/25/1929 Longin' for home Sweet Peas Spivey Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, tenor guitar  
Victor BVE-57927 10-in. 12/18/1929 Ridin' but walkin' Fats Waller’s Buddies Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57928 10-in. 12/18/1929 Won't you get off it please Fats Waller’s Buddies Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-57929 10-in. 12/18/1929 When I'm alone Fats Waller’s Buddies Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-58581 10-in. 2/18/1930 Sugar Hill function Henry Allen ; Henry Allen and his New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-58582 10-in. 2/18/1930 You might get better but you'll never get well Henry Allen ; Henry Allen and his New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, banjo, vocalist  
Victor BVE-58583 10-in. 2/18/1930 Everybody shout Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-58584 10-in. 2/18/1930 Dancing Dave Henry Allen ; New York Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, banjo  
Victor BVE-59142 10-in. 2/4/1930 New York blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-59143 10-in. 2/4/1930 Lonesome with the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-59144 10-in. 2/4/1930 Showered with blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BVE-59145 10-in. 2/4/1930 Haunted by the blues Victoria Spivey Female vocal solo, with guitar and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BRC-70195 10-in. 8/28/1931 You rascal you Henry Allen ; Luis Russell Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BRC-70196 10-in. 8/28/1931 Goin' to town Chick Bullock ; Luis Russell Orchestra ; Harold Mooney Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BRC-70197 10-in. 8/28/1931 Say the word Chick Bullock ; Luis Russell Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BRC-70198 10-in. 8/28/1931 Freakish blues Luis Russell Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403493 10-in. 12/10/1929 I ain't got nobody (And nobody cares for me) Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403494 10-in. 12/10/1929 Dallas blues Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403495 10-in. 12/13/1929 St. Louis blues Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403496 10-in. 12/13/1929 Rockin' chair Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal duet instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403681 10-in. 1/24/1930 Song of the islands Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra [Luis Russell Orchestra] Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403714 10-in. 2/1/1930 Bessie couldn't help it Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W403715 10-in. 2/1/1930 Blue, turning grey over you Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W490014 10-in. 12/10/1929 I ain't got nobody (And nobody cares for me) Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W490015 10-in. 12/10/1929 Dallas blues Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
OKeh W490016 10-in. 12/13/1929 St. Louis blues Louis Armstrong Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Johnson, Will," accessed September 25, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100886.

Johnson, Will. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100886.

"Johnson, Will." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 25 September 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/100886

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