Johnny Jones Biography

17 August 1936, Edes, Tennessee, USA. Jones is one of the most respected of a clutch of blues artists who have found themselves a niche in the country-dominated musical climate of Nashville, Tennessee. A fixture at local clubs with his band the Imperial Seven, by the 80s his musical ambitions had been subsumed by financial considerations, and he can still be found running his own soul food café in Nashville. Jones travelled to Memphis at the age of 13, witnessing his first live blues performance by Joe Hill Louis, before moving with his mother to Chicago in the early 50s when his parents separated. There, he was exposed to all the blues greats of the era, including Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, and he shared an apartment with harmonica player Walter McCollum. Together they formed a small group, working regularly with Junior Wells and Freddie King. After a brief return to Memphis, Jones moved back to Nashville and became a studio guitarist, working on a number of releases on Bill Beasley’s Champion and Cherokee labels. These singles included Jimmy Beck Orchestra’s ‘Pipe Dreams’ instrumental and Larry Birdsong’s ‘Every Night In The Week’. His band, the Imperial Seven, were formed in the early 60s, and worked regularly at the renowned New Era club in Nashville. Jimi Hendrix regularly sat in on these sessions. Jones also played rhythm guitar, alongside Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, in the backing band for the Dallas television show The Beat. Jones recorded his first singles under his own name (including ‘Really Part 1’) at this time. He formed a new band in 1968, the King Casuals, who cut a number of singles for the Peachtree record label. However, by the late 70s, frustrated with irregular payments, Jones had all but retired into the restaurant busuness, aside from a stint playing guitar for Bobby Bland. He resurfaced in the late 90s both performing and recording.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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