Septuagenarian Johnny ‘B. Goode’ Johnson Returns With RatDog
In 1953 keyboardist Johnnie Johnson, the leader of his Sir John Trio invited young guitarist Chuck Berry to sit in during a New Year’s Eve gig. Berry came to play an increased role in the group with Johnson arranging and writing much of the music (although the nature of his songwriting became the source of a lawsuit that ultimately was dismissed due to timeliness). Johnson’s efforts earned him a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame status in 2001 with an induction speech by Keith Richards.
In 1996 Bob Weir invited Johnson to join his fledgling RatDog where he remained for two years and more than 60 performances. Although Johnson left the group in 1997, he continues to perform with RatDog whenever the band passes through St. Louis. This held true on Saturday night as Johnson (who will turn 80 next year) appeared for much of the show, sitting in on a number of tunes over the course of the night including ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,’ ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘West L.A. Fadeaway.’ He also played on the apt encores ‘Kansas City’and ‘Johnny B. Goode.’
The RatDog fall tour continues this evening at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO.