Q&A with veteran blues legend Johnny Tucker, sings from his soul, and never do it the same more than once

"I see my life through the eyes of a blues man and I react to the people in the crowd. My music heals and sends a message of hope, and love. I see people loving music - all colors, all different - but most just want to groove, just like me."

Johnny Tucker: Keeping The Blues Alive 

Johnny Tucker is the tenth child born of nineteen siblings to a seasonal sharecropper and his wife. His interest in music began when he would sit on the porch and hear his father play the guitar for his mother. Johnny started playing drums and was first influenced by Lowell Fulson’s record Black Knight. He learned the music by listening and playing along with the songs. He listened to James Brown records and learned to play his tunes as well. Johnny first came to Los Angeles in 1964 where he hooked up with Phillip Walker as a featured singer doing a James Brown act singing top ten hits of the times. Later, he became a drummer with Phillip’s band and began traveling the world for the next 34 years. Along the way, he played with other great artists such as Floyd Dixon, Robert Cray, Johnny Otis, The Five Royals, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and the late Lowell Folson and Johnny Copeland. Johnny has traveled and performed extensively in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe.

(Johnny Tucker & Kid Ramos / Photo by Astor Morgan)

In 1967 Johnny met James “Broadway” Thomas while they were with playing with the Johnny Otis band. In 1997 these two teamed up and put out an album titled Stranded, by Tucker and Thomas. Some of the original tunes on that disc were written and produced by Johnny. Now, Johnny Tucker is back, on a new album, “75 and Alive” (2021). Having reached a milestone birthday on October 17, 2020, which also happened to be the day the album was recorded, Johnny Tucker released his new opus, 75 and Alive, in partnership with Blue Heart Records. Bob Auerbach selected Kid Ramos to produce this collection of twelve originals. Ramos assembled The Allstars band, featuring Carl Sonny Leyland, John Bazz, Jason Lozano, Bob Corritore and Ron Dziubla.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has Afro American music influenced your views of the world and your journey in it?

I have a very positive view of the world.  As I have traveled and played my music, people show me nothing but love. I think it's because they just love the songs, I sing for them. I give love out, and that has always been what I got back!  There is no color in the blues, and I believe my music brings all peoples of the world together.

How do you describe your sound, and music philosophy? Where do you get your creative drive from?

My sound is very unique. You see, it's different every time I go to sing. I follow my heart. I believe in my ability to sing from my soul, and I never do it the same more than once. I always just get it right the first time.

Which meetings have been the most important experience to you? What advice do you ever give anyone?

My meeting Lowell Fulson at the age of 16 taught me a lot and gave me confidence for my age. I always learned a lot from older people in my life.

"I met Kid in 2006 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix. We were both on the last gig Floyd Dixon would play, and man he has always been a good cat.  He only showed me love and never was jealous towards me. He was very generous with me and his music. In the old days cats were threatened by other musicians, but not Kid, not by a long shot!" (Johnny Tucker & Kid Ramos / Photo by Astor Morgan)

Are there any specific moments with others you have performed with in your career?

Yes, so many special moments with Philip Walker playing music all over the world. Playing drums for my dear friend Floyd Dixon, and one of my favorite people, Kid Ramos.

What do you miss most nowadays from music from the past?

I believe true blues is dying out. It’s just a different time than when I came up in the game.

What has made you laugh and what has touched you from Kid Ramos? How did you meet each other?

I met Kid in 2006 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix. We were both on the last gig Floyd Dixon would play, and man he has always been a good cat.  He only showed me love and never was jealous towards me. He was very generous with me and his music. In the old days cats were threatened by other musicians, but not Kid, not by a long shot!

What are some of the most important lessons you learned in your music?

That’s easy!  There’s always going to be enough music to go around. Music is my gift, and for it to work I need to be free with it! I love what I get to do, so I’ll do it till I drop.

What is the Impact of the blues on civil rights? How do you want your music to affect people?

I see my life through the eyes of a blues man and I react to the people in the crowd. My music heals and sends a message of hope, and love. I see people loving music - all colors, all different - but most just want to groove, just like me.

High John Records - Home

(Photo: Kid Ramos & Johnny Tucker at The Gaslamp, Long Beach, CA, 2018)

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