Funk band founder dies: Louis Johnson Bassist Dies

Published: May 23, 2015

Funk band founder dies: Louis Johnson Bassist Dies, Louis Johnson, the bassist who scored a string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s as one-half of the Brothers Johnson, passed away at the age of 60 on Thursday (May 21).

The Brothers Johnson got their start with 1976’s Look Out for #1, which lived up to its title by peaking at the top spot on the Billboard R&B chart (and going Top 10 on the pop chart). They were also spinning off the hit singles “Get the Funk Out Ma Face,” “Free and Single” and especially “I’ll Be Good to You,” which went on to become one of the duo’s defining songs, hitting No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the R&B tally.

Other hits followed, including a 1977 cover of Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23? and the 1980 single “Stomp,” but the Brothers Johnson split in the early ’80s to pursue their own projects, and only reunited sporadically over the ensuing years, while both brothers — Louis and guitarist and vocalist George Johnson — briefly pursed solo recording careers before moving on to session work.

Louis went on to have a successful and prolific career as a highly regarded session musician. His distinctive slap bass technique, which earned him the nickname “Thunder Thumbs,” made him an in-demand player for a wide variety of artists during the early ’80s, and put him in the studio to create a number of top-selling LPs, which included Herb Alpert’s Grammy-winning 1979 smash Rise as well as George Benson’s Give Me the Night. His most widely heard performances, however, came through Michael Jackson, who used Johnson on his Off the Wall, Thriller and Dangerous albums.

No cause of death has been reported for Johnson, who just celebrated his 60th birthday in April, but however he left us, it was far too soon. The Boombox offers condolences and well wishes to his family, and encourages you to spend at least part of your day delving into the tremendous body of work he left behind.

Check out how some members of the music industry are choosing to remember his legacy today.

Thank you for blessing me and the world with your original #funk. RIP #LouisJohnson “Thunder Thumbs” #brothersjohnson

— Lenny Kravitz (@LennyKravitz) May 22, 2015

Another Brick in our music foundation has left the building. Mr.”Louis Johnson” (April 13, 1955 – May 21, 2015)…

— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) May 22, 2015

the great Louis Johnson rip.

— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) May 22, 2015

One of my fondest childhood memories is playing Brothers Johnson records at my aunt’s house. Louis Johnson R.I.P.

— Phonte (@phontigallo) May 22, 2015

Funk band founder dies: Louis Johnson Bassist Dies


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