Atlantic 45 of the week: Little Johnny Jones – Hoy Hoy / Doin’ The Best That I Can (Atlantic 1045 1954)

Every week I will print an entry from my forthcoming book “US Atlantic Singles 1947-77”. This week is the turn of blues pianist Little Johnny Jones’ solitary release for the label:

Hoy Hoy (Jones) / Doin’ The Best That I Can (Jones)
Billboard Pop: none        Billboard R&B: none
Recorded: 9th Nov 1953
Released: Oct 1954.
Other issues: none
Available On: Messing With The Blues – Various (Ace 773 2000 UK)

Mention Atlantic Records, and one kind of music that definitely doesn’t spring to mind is Chicago Blues. This one-off release by piano legend Little Johnny Jones features the inimitable slide-guitar of Elmore James, normally the leader of this outfit, and fellow Broomdusters JT Brown (1918-69) on tenor sax and Odie Payne (1926-89) on drums. The group had first been used by Atlantic to back Joe Turner when he recorded “TV Mama” (Atlantic 1016) in Chicago. These tracks were cut a month later in the same city.

Johnny Jones was born on November 1st 1924 in Jackson Mississippi and was already more than proficient on the piano by the time he arrived in Chicago in 1946. His break came the following year when Big Maceo Merriwether was forced to leave guitarist Tampa Red’s band due to ill-health. Jones stepped in, and stayed with the band on and off until 1953. He can be heard on two of Red’s biggest hits, “When Things Go Wrong with You” (RCA Victor 50-0019 1949) and “Pretty Baby Blues” (RCA Victor 50-0136 1951). He was much in demand as a player in Chicago, and recorded with the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf during his tenure with Tampa Red.

Jones joined the Broomdusters, Elmore James’ group, in 1952 and featured on all the guitarist’s classic records of this period. The Atlantic session was a rare date as leader. It was to be his last, in fact. He continued to work in the Chicago clubs after his split with James until his early death from lung cancer on 19th November 1964, just 18 days after he had turned 40.


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