Music Reviews
Blues Anatomy with Jef Lee Johnson

Blues Anatomy with Jef Lee Johnson

Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson


The world of blues, like that of the rock ‘n’ roll that came after, is one incestuous pool where everyone covers each other either in tribute or downright imitation. In the midst of competition, and with the passage of time, many musicians become forgotten. They become footnotes to those more vivid characters who drew inspiration from them and flourished in the public eye.

When it comes to blues guitarists, we all know John Lee Hooker and B.B. King, but tucked in the corners of history are people like Lonnie Johnson. He played with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington back in the ’20s and ’30s, and is credited as being the first guitarist to ever record a single-string guitar solo. Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis both paid tribute to the man by recording covers of his “Tomorrow Night” during their years with Sun Records, and Robert Johnson’s style of playing is in direct lineage to Lonnie’s. Let’s face it, if you want to do the math, without this guy (and others like him), there would have been no Jimi Hendrix, no Led Zeppelin, no The White Stripes.

And so, it is with all of this in mind, that Range Records gathered up some of the best blues players whose roots — like Lonnie’s — are in Philadelphia and whipped up a tribute album. Blues Anatomy with lead guitarist Jef Lee Johnson, a reclusive legend amongst his peers, play these songs with respect and love so true that one could swear that this was just an old collection remastered for compact disc.

Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson:

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