Johnny Littlejohn

Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and Johnny Littlejohn

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Updated August 28, 2013

NEW! "John Littlejohn's Blues Party", previously unreleased music from a 1989 session featuring special guests Willie Kent, Taildragger, John Primer and Billy Branch. WLF 120859, available online here.
John Funchess, aka Johnny Littlejohn, 1931-1994

Born in "Lake", Scott County Mississippi April 16, 1931 near Jackson. Sadly remains underappreciated. A brilliant singer, songwriter and soloist, both on slide guitar in open E tuning `a la Elmore James and in regular `a la B.B. King - and Muddy Waters. An extremely talented singer with a high tenor like Elmore with occasional 'raspiness' in the high register for emphasis. Favoured Gibson SGs and ES 335s for both modes.

John worked at plantations when he was young, earning 40 cents a day. After his daddy won a guitar, Johnny learned quickly, with Henry Martin as his initial mentor. Henry was an influential Jackson Mississippi bluesman who was also a friend of John's father.

Johnny played with Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and others before going solo. A great friend and "co-conspirator" of John "Big Moose" Walker (piano, vocals) who was like a brother to him. The two were lifelong friends and played together on and off for nearly fifty years.

In lean times John worked at a gas station, later as an auto mechanic before he was 'rediscovered' in the mid to late 1970s by Europeans. By the 1980s he was again in full swing and peaked at a triumphal 1989 performance at New York City's famous Bottom Line club where he was the recipient of terrific accolades and called one of the kings of the blues.

Johnny recorded for the Arhoolie, Bluesway, Black and Blue (distributed by WEA), M.C.M. and Rooster Blues labels in his lifetime. I consider his excellent "Can't Nobody Hurt You (But Your So-Called Friends)" to be his finest recording. It features a red hot band with Lafayette Leake on acoustic piano and an eight-piece horn section. See links below for purchasing Johnny's recordings on line.

"If he was not one of the kings of the blues, he surely was a prince." -Tony McLean

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Discography, pics, stories, sounds, Big Moose Walker obituary and more coming soon.

Updated 9.11.2012

Take me home, John!