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Bill Johnson

William Manuel "Bill" Johnson (August 10, 1872 – December 3, 1972), was an American jazz musician, considered the father of the "slap" style of double bass playing.

Johnson claimed to have started "slapping" the strings of his bass (a more vigorous technique than the classical pizzicato) after he accidentally broke his bow on the road with his band in northern Louisiana in the early 1910s. Other New Orleans string bass players picked up this style, and spread it across the country with the spread of New Orleans Jazz.

Johnson was founder and manager of the first jazz band to leave New Orleans and tour widely in the 1910s, The Original Creole Orchestra.

In Chicago in the early 1920s he assembled King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, considered perhaps the best of the early ensemble style jazz bands. He taught younger Chicago musicians (including Milt Hinton) his "slap" style of string bass playing. He made many recordings in Chicago in the late 1920s.

Johnson continued to play with various jazz bands and orchestras into the early 1950s, sometimes working under other names. He was also involved in the import/export business along the USA-Mexico border.

Johnson's brother Ollie "Dink" Johnson was also a noted musician and his sister Anita Gonzales was common-law wife or perhaps married to Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton during his stays in California.

Bill Johnson died in New Braunfels, Texas, at the age of 100.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 10th, 1872 (Talladega), Died December 3rd, 1972 (New Braunfels)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1928 - 1941

Roles Represented in DAHR: string bass, banjo, trumpet, leader

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 27 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-46055 10-in. 7/5/1928 Blue clarinet stomp Johnny Dodds' Trio Jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-46056 10-in. 7/5/1928 Blue piano stomp Johnny Dodds' Trio Jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-46063 10-in. 7/6/1928 Bucktown stomp Johnny Dodds Washboard Band Instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-46064 10-in. 7/6/1928 Weary city Johnny Dodds Washboard Band Instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-46065 10-in. 7/6/1928 Bull fiddle blues Johnny Dodds Washboard Band Instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-46066 10-in. 7/6/1928 Blue washboard stomp Johnny Dodds Washboard Band Instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48797 10-in. 1/16/1929 Pencil papa Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48798 10-in. 1/16/1929 Heah' me talkin' Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48799 10-in. 1/16/1929 Goober dance Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48800 10-in. 1/16/1929 Too tight Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48841 10-in. 1/30/1929 Sweet Lorraine Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48842 10-in. 1/30/1929 My little Isabel Johnny Dodds’ Orchestra Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-48869 10-in. 2/7/1929 Indigo stomp Johnny Dodds' Trio Jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, string bass  
Victor BVE-49863 10-in. 2/7/1929 Clarinetski Johnny Dodds' Trio Jazz/dance instrumental trio instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400977 10-in. 7/2/1928 Get 'em again blues Chicago Footwarmers ; Johnny Dodds Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400978 10-in. 7/2/1928 Brush stomp Chicago Footwarmers Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400979 10-in. 7/2/1928 My girl Chicago Footwarmers ; Johnny Dodds Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400986 10-in. 7/3/1928 Sweep 'em clean Chicago Footwarmers Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400987 10-in. 7/3/1928 Lady love Chicago Footwarmers Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
OKeh W400988 10-in. 7/3/1928 Brown Bottom Bess Chicago Footwarmers Jazz/dance sextet instrumentalist, string bass  
Brunswick C3154 10-in. 3/20/1929 Get the “L” on down the road Bill Johnson’s Louisiana Jug Band Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal solo leader  
Brunswick C3155 10-in. 3/20/1929 Don’t drink it in here Bill Johnson’s Louisiana Jug Band Instrumental ensemble, with male vocal solo leader  
Decca 68920 10-in. 4/3/1941 The goon drag Sam Price and his Texas Bluesicians instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 68921 10-in. 4/3/1941 Things 'bout coming my way Sam Price and his Texas Bluesicians instrumentalist, trumpet  
Decca 68922 10-in. 4/3/1941 Lead me Daddy straight to the bar Sam Price and his Texas Bluesicians instrumentalist, trumpet  
(Results 1-25 of 27 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Johnson, Bill," accessed July 23, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110790.

Johnson, Bill. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 23, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110790.

"Johnson, Bill." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 23 July 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110790

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