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Lonnie Johnson


Lonnie Johnson is probably one of the most important links between the birth of blues music as a regional idiomatic art form and American popular music from jazz to rock. As a guitarist, he was a hugely influential presence, shaping the playing of innovators from Charlie Christian to B.B. King, and by extension, Chuck Berry and countless rockers. He was a dazzling single string player, bringing the guitar from a primarily rhythm instrument to prominence as a lead instrument. He was a ubiquitous presence on jazz sessions in the 1920s playing on records with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. An excellent singer, his smooth uptown sound could be seen as an influence on R&B balladeers like Charles Brown and Nat Cole. Johnson was also able to adapt when the folk blues revival of the '60s came along playing expertly in that style.

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