Alabama Music Achievers

Alphabetical Achievers Listing


JUDGE JACKSON - Montgomery County, Alabama
- Jackson helped organize the Dale County Colored Musical Institute, serving as its president for many years.
- He was a distinguished teacher of sacred harp singing schools held at various churches in Southeast Alabama.
- In 1932 Judge Jackson was named to author a musical book called The Colored Sacred Harp, in which four shaped notes would be used.
- Of the 77 songs in his book, Jackson composed some and added parts to others, with one exception all of the songs were composed by Blacks

LEON JACKSON - Hamilton, Alabama
- He spent most of his adult life in Chicago and gained popularity as a world class banjo player in the 60's playing with Don Reno & Red Smiley, and other bands as well.
- He was a recording artist for Cincinnati based King Records in the 50's and a songwriter for Ft. Knox Music Publishing.
- His song, "Love Please Come Home," is a bluegrass classic recorded by everyone from Bill Monroe to the Grateful Dead. It was a radio hit for the duo Reno & Smiley in the early 60's and is a multimillion selling copyright.
- He was a favorite at Bluegrass festivals until his death.

TOMMY JACKSON - Birmingham, Alabama
- Jackson is generally considered to be one of the two or three greatest commercial country fiddle players of all time.
- The first regular Nashville session fiddler, he played on thousands of recordings and ranged from bluegrass to western swing in fiddle styles.
- From the late 1940s through the 1960s he was probably Nashville’s most in-demand session fiddler.
- Virtually invented the standard Country fiddle back-up style
- Early 1950's had a string of hit albums that stimulated the square dance craze

SONNY JAMES - Hackleburg, Alabama
- His multi million seller "Young Love", began a string of 20 consecutive number one recordings. The record also holds the distinction of being the first Country record to crossover to the top of the Pop Charts.
- He was named the top Male Country Singles Artist numerous times by the major music industry publications, Billboard, Cash Box and Record World.
- Was named Country Male Artist of the Decade by Record World for the 1960's.
- James co hosted the first CMA Awards Show in 1967.
- He was the first country recording artist honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Hee Haw and The Bob Hope Show, and made several movies, including Las Vegas Hillbillies (1966), Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar (1967) and Nashville Rebel (1967).

FRANKIE "HALF PINT" JAXON - Montgomery, Alabama
- Nicknamed for his short stature
v - Jaxon entered show business at the age of 15 as a singer, dancer, comedian and female impersonator, and was also active as a producer of revues.
- He also recorded gospel with the Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers.
- He worked in theater administration on the black theater circuit
- Was a frequent broadcaster and made numerous records with blues artists including Cow Cow Davenport and Thomas A. Dorsey.
- Jaxon appeared on club and theater dates with several noted jazzmen, Bennie Moten and King Oliver, and recorded with the Harlem Hamfats, Lillian Armstrong, Red Allen and Barney Bigard.

GUS JENKINS - Birmingham, Alabama
- A blues pianist and singer who recorded for Chess in the early 1950's but then moved to the West Coast, where he became a popular musician in the Los Angeles area blues scene.
- In the 1950's and 60's, he recorded with a number of small West Coast-based independent record companies, including Flash, Combo, Catalina, General Artist, and his own Pioneer label.
- Jenkins also toured with bandleader Johnny Otis and traveled with West Coast R&B revues.

JOHN “BOBO” JENKINS - Forkland, Alabama
- Jenkins played a roughed-up brand of blues that often included clever social commentary in the lyrics. Two of his best-known tunes were, "Democrat Blues" and "Watergate Blues,"
- In 1954, he recorded for Chess, singing and playing guitar.
- In the 50's Jenkins recorded for Boxer and Fortune.
- In the 70's he founded the Big Star label, and issued three albums.

CLAUDE JETER - Montgomery, Alabama
- In 1938 organized a gospel quartet, the Four Harmony Kings, with his brother and two miners.
- They changed their name to the Swan Silvertones. Under this title they made their first recordings.
- They recorded their biggest hit, "Mary, Don't You Weep" (1959).
- Jeter left the group in the mid-1960s to enter the ministry, but has continued to record as a soloist

JOE - Opelika, Alabama
- Aka Joe Thomas
- His multi-platinum album "My Name Is Joe," was nominated for two Grammy Award.
- His production work with BeBe Winans and Mariah Carey generated two more Grammy nominations.
- He has also produced Baby Face and SWV
- Joe remixed a duet with Tina Turner and Barry White
- He appeared on Mariah Carey's "Thank God I Found You" single
- His songs have appeared on several movie soundtracks with "I Wanna Know" single reaching the R&B Top Five

JOHNSON SISTERS - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- Mary, Margaret, Ann and Judy (Ann & Judy are twins) make up the Johnson Sisters.
- They traveled with Wally Fowler for a time singing and doing backup for his stage performances.
- In the mid-1950's they recorded a 45-rpm record with Chet Atkins playing guitar.
- Happy Hal Burns, a local TV personality, made them regular guests on his television show in Birmingham.
- Around 1952 the sisters recorded their first album titled "The Johnson Sisters, Sweethearts of Gospel Music."
- During the mid '60s, the sisters became a part of the syndicated TV show, The Gospel Singing Caravan.

DAVID JOHNSON - Sheffield, Alabama
- Engineer for Quin Ivy at Quinvy Studio
- Purchased studio from Ivy and renamed it Broadway Sound
- Worked with Clarence Carter, Swamp Dog, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Supremes, The Commodores, Leslie Uggams, Kenny Price
- Johnson served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame from 1982 until 1989
- In 1989, he assumed the position of Executive Director of that organization.
- He is past president of the Muscle Shoals Music Association.

DEXTER JOHNSON - Sheffield, Alabama
- He toured as a member of the Blue Seal Pals, appearing with artists such as Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield.
- He built what was to become the first recording studio in the Muscle Shoals area.
- As a studio owner and operator he made some of the first recordings for artists such as Tanya Tucker, Kenneth Lovelace, Sue Richards and Melba Montgomery.
- As a session musician, Johnson played bass on the million selling hit by Dave Gardner, "White Silver Sands".
- He introduced his nephew Jimmy Johnson to recording studios, and the younger Johnson went on to help found the renown Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
- During the 1980's, through his association with Cattle Records in Sulzheim, West Germany, Johnson released two solo albums, and an album of radio shows by The Blue Seal Pals.
- He and his band, The Tennessee Valley Boys, also backed up vocalist Janet McBride on two albums for the label.

HOWARD JOHNSON - Montgomery, Alabama
-- In 1964, at a time when the tuba was not a fashionable instrument Charles Mingus welcomed him into his workshop.
- In 1965 he toured with soul jazz altoist Hank Crawford, playing baritone.
- In 1966 he played in the Archie Shepp band for some months and appeared with him at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968.
- Gil Evans used his multi instrumental capacity at various points between 1966 and 1970. Active on the west coast in the mid 60's, Johnson played with Buddy Rich, Gerald Wilson and Oliver Nelson.
- He supplied the tuba solo on a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" in 1974
- He arranged for Taj Mahal, B. B. King and Paul Butterfield and played on the Band's Rock Of Ages.

JAY JOHNSON - Muscle Shoals, Alabama
- Lead guitar, Vocalist, Producer, Engineer, Songwriter
- Jay was a charter member of The Rossington Band and Radio Tokyo.
- While with The Rossington Band, Jay appeared on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Tour from 1987 88 and in the million selling Lynyrd Skynyrd video movie from the tour.
- He co wrote The Rossington Band singles "Losin' Control" and "Returned To The Scene Of The Crime."
- He also played guitar on the critically acclaimed LP "The Right Time," by blues diva Etta James.
- Joined with members of Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet to form the Southern Rock Allstars.

JIMMY JOHNSON - Sheffield, Alabama
- Rhythm guitar, session musician, producer, publisher, engineer, studio owner, businessman
- In the early 1960s he went to work for Rick Hall as the first employee of FAME Studio.
- By the mid 60s he had begun playing rhythm guitar, and eventually became a regular member of the FAME studio rhythm section.
- In 1969, he and partner Roger Hawkins decided to form their own studio, a move that created Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
- Among the acts he as produced are Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Levon Helm, Billy Vera, Billy "Crash" Craddock, and Connie Frances.
- His distinctive guitar fills can be heard on the recordings of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Millie Jackson, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Dr. Hook, Leon Russell, The Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Z.Z. Hill, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Bob Seger, Lulu, R.B. Greaves, Luther Ingram, Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson and many others.
- He is also renown as a recording engineer, having worked the controls on such classics as the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses", Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman", and others.
- As a businessman, Johnson has served not only as president of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and Publishing companies, but also as president of the Muscle Shoals Music Association, vice president of A&R for Capitol/MSS Records, Chairman of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board, member of the Board of Governors for the 3 M Scotty Awards, and president of MSS Records/Malaco.

ROLAND JOHNSON - Cullman, Alabama
- Released several records during the 1950s on Decca and Brunswick Record labels.
- In 1959 he debuted on Billboard Magazine's Country Chart with "I Traded Her Love (For Deep Purple Wine,)" reaching #25.
- Little Jimmy Dickens recorded his "Cornbread and Buttermilk" composition.
- He would later become mayor of Garden City, Alabama.

JO JOHNSTON - Dothan, Alabama
- In 1963, Jo had her first of more than 100 compositions published in Chicago with Brandom Music.
- She opened her own publishing business in 1972, Elenjay Publishing. She is also the President of the recording company, Apache Records.
- Jo has composed and authored, published and recorded three national military songs.
- "Above The Best", the national theme song for U.S. Army Aviation; "Dragon Soldiers," the Chemical Corps' national theme song; and the U.S. Corps of Engineers national theme song, "Essayons"
- In 1988, Jo received the Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service medal for writing "Above The Best". This medal is the second highest award given to civilians.

JAMES JOINER - Florence, Alabama
-- One of the founders of the Muscle Shoals music industry
- Began the first record company and the first publishing company in the state
- Provided the first recording experience for musicians such as David Briggs, Spooner Oldham, Jerry Carrigan, Donnie Fritts, and many others.
- As a songwriter, Joiner penned the first hit to spring from the Muscle Shoals music industry, and recorded it, "A Fallen Star."
- He published the truck driver classic, "Six Days On The Road."

JIMMY JONES - Birmingham, Alabama
- Beginning as an R&B doo-wop singer he became a rock 'n roll star in the early 60's.
- Piercingly high falsetto vocals - In 1960, wrote and recorded "Handy Man" which went to #3 in the R&B Charts and to #2 in the Pop Charts.
- In 1964 Del Shannon's version of the song went to #22
- In 1977 James Taylor's single of "Handy Man" went to #1 in Adult Contemporary and to #4 on the Pop Charts.

JO JONES - Birmingham, Alabama
- His innovations were very influential
- Often called the world's greatest drummer.
- Drummer in the "All American Rhythm Section" for Count Basie
- Worked regularly with Teddy Wilson, Claude Hopkins, pianist Ray Bryant, etc. made several tours of Europe with "Jazz at the Philharmonic."
- Prolific free-lance recordings throughout his career with: Billy Holiday, Teddy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, etc.

STEVEN DALE JONES - Hamilton, Alabama
- Songwriter
- He signed with BMG Music Publishing in 1991 and with Island Bound Music in 1994.
- Steve has had over 50 cuts to date, including cuts by Mindy McCready "Ten Thousand Angels," Ty Herndon "She Wants To Be Wanted," Tanya Tucker "Little Things," Diamond Rio, Billy Dean, Daryle Singletary, Dobie Gray, Shenandoah, Jodee Messina, Trace Adkins, Etc.

IRENE JORDAN - Birmingham, Alabama
- A lyric Soprano
- The Ford Foundation singled her out as one of the top ten U.S. performing artists
- She was awarded the 1959 Ford Foundation Grant
- Miss Jordan appeared on the NBC television production of "Fidelio".
- She sang the earthy Santuzza in "Cavalleria Rusticana" and played Gilda in the Philadelphia Opera production of "Rigoletto".
- She performed with the Metropolitan Opera from 1946 until 1948 and again in 1957, and performed with the Opera Nacional in Mexico City, the St. Louis Municipal Opera, London's Covent Gardens, Carnegie Hall, New York's City Center and Chicago's Lyric Theater.

JUBALAIRES - Birmingham, Alabama
- Among the most accomplished of all the Birmingham jubilee quartets.
- They sang and recorded with, Andy Kirk, Kay Starr, Elvis Presley (in several of his films), Phil Harris and Ry Cooder.
- Their own recordings, made for Decca, King, Capitol, Reprise and other labels, were widely influential.
- Bass singer, George "Biggie" McFadden, later toured with the Ink Spots.

JUBILEANS - Bessemer, Alabama
- Southern Gospel group in the late 70's and early 80's.
- Nationally played songs were: "I Stand Before Him Guilty," later was recorded by Jerry Goff and went to the top 10 and published in many song books.
- "Tears Dim My Eyes" was another nationally acclaimed song recorded by Jerry Goff.
- The Jubileans had several recordings produced by Rusty Goodman and later Eddie Crook Company, Nashville.
- Members of the Jubileans were, Ellis Burkett, manager, from Bessemer, AL, Roger Parks, Green Pond, AL, Eddie Nix, Green Pond, AL, L.R. Resser, Alabaster, AL, Roger Speegle, Falkville, AL, Ron Burkett, Bessemer, AL and Evie Hawkins, Somerville, AL.

BILL JUSTIS - Birmingham, Alabama
-- Saxophonist/arranger/producer
- Created classic rock 'n roll instrumental, "Raunchy"
- Justis produced Charlie Rich's biggest rock era hit Lonely Weekends" in 1960 and also co-wrote the answer record "After The Hop" for Bill Pinky and the Turks.
- Wrote arrangements for Kenny Rogers and others.

Alphabetical Achievers Listing


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