Music/Popular Culture

TunesDay tribute: General Johnson, RIP

Those of us from the Carolinas know that the term “Beach Music” has nothing to do with The Beach Boys. Instead, it’s an amalgam of old dance R&B (The Drifters, The Tams, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, plus some Sam Cooke and a host of Motown artists) and “similar” music produced by contemporary artists such as The Embers, The Catalinas, Dip Ferrell & the TrueTones and The Swinging Medallions. (Here’s one site’s take on the greatest Beach tunes of all time. We might argue some specifics, but it’s not a bad list and will certainly communicate to the novice what the Myrtle Beach sound is all about.) Jangle Pop icon Don Dixon has even recorded an homage to the genre. His latest, Don Dixon Sings the Jeffords Brothers, features songs from the writers behind the TrueTones.

One of the legends of Beach was General Norman Johnson, who fronted General Johnson & the Chairmen of the Board as they provided shagging music for two or three generations of Carolinians. Johnson died last Wednesday of cancer at the age of 67.

S&R pays tribute to General Johnson today. Feel free to dance along, even if it’s only in your seat. First, one of the Chairmen’s biggest hits, “Carolina Girls.”

In his earlier days, Johnson fronted The Showmen, who had a hit with “39-21-46.”

Another can’t-not-dance classic – “Give Me Just a Little More Time.”

We’ll close with something that, somehow or another, I never knew existed before yesterday: a cover of “Rockaway Beach” featuring none other than Joey Ramone. Just marvelous, although you’ll want to avoid looking directly at the screen during Joey’s close-ups.

We’ll miss you, General, but we take some solace in knowing that wherever you are, the party just got a little better.

2 replies »

  1. Oh man. Memories! When I got one of those cheap, small, reel-to-reel recorders in 1971, my sister sang this song (Give me just a little more time) as it played on the radio, and I had a nightmare vision of what karaoke would become. I also kept the tape for years. They don’t sing them like this anymore.