Q&A with legendary Chicago bluesman Jimmy Johnson - Every Day of His Life Have And Plays The Blues

"I believe that music can bring everyone together. Do not divide us!  We all have something to offer no matter what culture you come from. People all over the world have something to offer."

Jimmy Johnson: The Real Bluesman

90 years young Jimmy Johnson returns to the recording studio for the first time in over a decade. It has been precisely forty years since his Delmark debut 'Johnson's Whacks'. Delmark celebrates Jimmy's homecoming by releasing 'Every Day of Your Life' (2019), an album comprised of four original songs and Jimmy's unique take on five other tunes including a solo performance of Jimmy singing and playing piano on the Bobby 'Blue' Bland hit 'Lead Me On'. Two different stellar Chicago bands back Jimmy throughout this album. Johnson was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He has playing professionally in Chicago since 1959 and has worked with Freddy King, Albert King, Magic Sam and Otis Rush among many others.

Jimmy Johnson / Photo by Lola Reynaerts

Jimmy Johnson says: "Lyrics sometimes come from life experiences, but not always as some people think. Sometime something someone will say will give you an idea for a song or at least a few lines. Ideas come in your head. My sound of course, comes from a variety of musicians that have influenced me along the way. BB King, Albert King, Otis Rush, all great musicians." Jimmy has always had an R&B style of blues and he brings it to this new album, his fourth for Delmark. "Live everyday of your life like it's your last." - Jimmy Johnson

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

The Blues Music has been great to me over the years, but I love all music. The music has taken me all over the world, meeting many wonderful people, not just other musicians. The music brings people together no matter where you are from or what color you are.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? Where does your lyrics creative drive come from?

Lyrics sometimes come from life experiences, but not always as some people think. Sometime something someone will say will give you an idea for a song or at least a few lines. Ideas come in your head. My sound of course, comes from a variety of musicians that have influenced me along the way. BB King, Albert King, Otis Rush, all great musicians.

Why do you think that the Chicago Blues scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

The people in Chicago just love entertainment. Music soothes the soul. The crowds love what you are doing. You are doing your best to entertain them.

Are there any memories from gigs, tours and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

The number one experience for me that I will never forget is going to Japan for the first time. The Japanese people were excited to see us. They treated us very well and with respect. I traveled with Otis Rush, you know he was well known and a wonderful friend and guitar player.              (Photo: Jimmy Johnson, Otis Rush and Albert Collins)

"The Blues Music has been great to me over the years, but I love all music. The music has taken me all over the world, meeting many wonderful people, not just other musicians. The music brings people together no matter where you are from or what color you are."

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of the blues?

In the past we had a lot of clubs to play, but not these days. The clubs are limited, the musicians are plentiful but no jobs for them. The future of the blues looks very dim to me. There are not enough young black musicians playing the blues. I am afraid it will die out and the culture from which it came will die. The black history is being lost. I would hope that distribution of the music would be better.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

My musical experiences have been many over the years. I have learned that audiences are different when you travel from one city to another and one country to another. The audiences in other countries give you a lot of respect when you can play an instrument and sing.

What is the impact of the Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I believe that music can bring everyone together. Do not divide us!  We all have something to offer no matter what culture you come from. People all over the world have something to offer.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I have been to Africa before, but not exactly where you would want to be. Too much poverty, but I would like to go on an African Safari with the wild animals. The country is so beautiful in many parts of Africa. I love to watch all the animal programs on TV, but I think it would really be a once in a lifetime experience. I do love Switzerland and Belgium. So clean! France is always great for musicians. They love music! As I close out our little interview, I would like to say I wish there was more love in the world, not hate! I will always do my part to make the world a better place and I would like everyone to do their part.

Jimmy Johnson - Home

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