Formed 1975 in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
The Brothers Johnson comprised of:
George Johnson (b. 17th May 1953, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.) and Louis Johnson (b. 13th April 1955, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.). The Brothers Johnson comprised, of the brothers, George Johnson (‘Lightnin’ Licks’) and Louis E. Johnson (‘Thunder Thumbs’).
George played the guitar in the duo. Louis played the bass guitar.
‘Thunder Thumbs and Lightnin’ Licks’ refers to the brothers’ nicknames.
Whilst the duo were at school in Los Angeles, they formed the group the Johnson Three Plus One.
The other two members were, their older brother Tommy Johnson, and their cousin, Alex Weir.
The Johnson Three Plus One toured with several Soul performers, including the Supremes, Billy Preston and Bobby Womack.
George and Louis Johnson later joined Billy Preston’s band.
They penned some of the songs on the Preston albums ‘Music in My Life’ and ‘The Kids and Me’.
They left Billy’s group in 1973, and began recording as a duo.
Initially the covered the Beatles’ song, ‘Hey Jude’, for a musical documentary entitled ‘All This and World War II’.
A year previously, Quincy Jones had utilised the brothers writing abilities for his ‘Mellow Madness’ album project.
Quincy used 4 of the brothers songs including, ‘Is It Love That We’re Missing?’ and ‘Just a Taste of Me’.
Lookin Out For No.1Right On TimeBlam!Light Up The Night
lookin out for no.1 – 1976 / right on time – 1977 / blam! – 1978 / light up the night – 1980
Quincy returned the favour, and produced the Brothers debut album, released in 1976 for the A&M imprint, entitled ‘Lookin’ Out For Number One’.
The album contained the hits ‘Get The Funk Outta My Face’ (co-penned with Quincy) and ‘I’ll Be Good To You’.
Two of the brothers songs were featured on the soundtrack of the 1976 film ‘Mother, Jugs & Speed’.
In 1977, a second album was released, entitled ‘Right On Time’, which contained a cover version of the Shuggie Otis song ‘Strawberry Letter 23’.
In 1978, ‘Blam!!’ was released, which climbed to number 7 on the Billboard 200.
‘Blam!! featured the songs ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’, ‘Ride-O-Rocket’ and ‘Streetwave.
In 1980, the brothers released the album ‘Light Up The Night’, which also reached number 5 on the Billboard 200.
This release featured the dancers ’Stomp!’ and the albums title track, with the album becoming voted as one of the top albums of 1980, by Rolling Stone magazine.
‘Winners’ followed in 1981, to less of a fanfare, however the song ‘Caught up’ became a favourite on the Soul stations.
Also released this year, was a Louis Johnson Gospel album project by the group Passage.
This album was mainly penned by Louis, and featured the songs ‘Power’ and ‘You Can’t be Livin’.
Differences between the siblings led to a split in the group in 1982, although a best of album was released that year, entitled ‘Blast!’.
The brothers began working on solo projects, with Louis inputting on Michael Jackson’s epic ‘Thriller’.
George released a solo single on Quincy’s label, entitled ‘Back Against The Wall’, as well as collaborating with Steve Arrington and Jeff Lorber.
In between these commitments, they reunited for two album projects, 1984’ ‘Out Of Control’ (featuring the instrumental ‘Tokyo’), and, in 1988, ‘Kickin’ (featuring their take on the Stairsteps evergreen ‘We Must Be In Love’).
The 1988 album was released as a collaboration album with the artist Irene Cara, who lived locally to the brothers.
The brothers song ‘Tomorrow’ (initially on ‘Looking Out For Number One’), featured on Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block release in 1989, performed by Siedah Garrett.
‘I’ll Be Good to You’ was also reworked on the album, with the vocals provided this time round by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan.
With rumours of increasing differences between the two, they put these aside and commenced on a tour in 2002, which was well received.
More info on the band at: www.soulwalking.co.uk