Heat up your Monday morning with some exciting African music coming out of the Freestyle Records camp as they reissue one of the most influential musicians of afrobeat music, Ginger Johnson. His influence on the great Fela Kuti is quite evident, and Freestyle are telling his untold story beginning with this 45 and a follow up full length. Born in Nigeria and relocating to London in the later half of the 1940’s, Johnson became the go to African percussionist while in the UK. His talents were connected to Edmundo Ross and Ronnie Scott, while his output on Melodisc was the first recorded example of African music in Britain. And yet, his name isn’t a household one. A performer who was the back bone of countless projects, is still undiscovered by many. His residence was a meeting place for African musicians to jam, hang, eat, and be communal. A mentor to all musicians, most called him “father” (including the great Black President Fela Kuti). It’s great to see that he is finally getting his propers.
“I am so happy that my father’s album will finally be re-issued. His music will live on in the old and new audiences, who will now get to hear his work in its full glory! We call ‘African Party’ The Holy Grail Of Afrobeat – as he is The Godfather of Afrobeat!”- Dennis Dee Mac Johnson (son of Ginger Johnson)
Known as the only Afro-Cuban musician to book during the 1960’s, his was instrumental in the beginnings of the now famous Notting Hill Carnival. His club, Northern London’s Club Iroko, was a bastion of creativity, where bands like Osibia and Cymande made history and greats like Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, and Roland Kirk frequented during their times in the city. “I Jool Omo” Is a fusion of high life and jazz, a percussion filled, flute heavy side that will no doubt introduce his music to a new audience of music lovers. Johnson’s legacy and his influence on many artists (jazz and otherwise) is not well known. Even though he took a part in the famous 1969 Hyde Park concert opening up for the Rolling Stones, even providing backing to “Sympathy For the Devil” at the show, it’s some 46 years later that the genius of Ginger Johnson is finally discovered. The forty five will be available in March/ April, and followed up by a full length, African Party in May/ June.
Ginger Johnson Supports The Rolling Stones At The Party in the Park 1969
Check out a clip of the 45 below: