Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beach Music's Legendary General Norman Johnson Has Died

General Norman Johnson, lead singer of the popular beach music trio Chairmen of the Board, died Wednesday. He was 67.
“It saddens me to announce the passing of our friend and hero General Johnson,” wrote singer Ken Knox, a member of the band, on their Facebook page. “He held a special place in his heart for each and everyone of you. His music will live on.”
It was unclear how Johnson died; however the band left public updates on Johnson's knee surgery back in August.
The group was founded in Detroit in 1970, but its members moved south in the early '80s, Knox said Thursday. Johnson settled in Atlanta, but Knox came to Charlotte, which is the headquarters of the group's record label.
Johnson's voice rang out in "Just a Little More Time" and other hits. Johnson won a Grammy for the song "Patches," Knox said, and also received songwriter of the year honors.
Funeral arrangements are not complete, Knox said.

General Johnson had this to say about his career:
My career has been a long exciting journey with all roads leading to the musical oasis called Beach Music.
In the spring of 1966 in Raleigh, North Carolina, as lead singer of the Showmen, I performed before my first Beach Music audience. Thinking Beach Music was music by artist like The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, we nervously performed a variety of rhythm and blues classics.
Surprisingly, each song was met with the audience's approval. As we ended the show with our regional hit "39-21-46" and our nationally charted hit song, "It Will Stand," the audience responded by applauding us back for an encore. Because we didn't know any other songs to perform, we sang two more verses of "It Will Stand" and spontaneously, began to adlib the chorus of Bruce Channel's song "Hey Baby."
As we sang "Hey Baby," we waved our hands in the air and to our surprise, everyone in the audience responded by doing the same. When we concluded the show with a bow, the audience showed their appreciation by rewarding us with another thunderous round of applause.
That spring night, I understood, appreciated and became a part of the Beach Music phenomenon.
In 1968, I moved to Detroit, Michigan to further my career with Invictus Records. As a member of The Chairmen of the Board, I experienced and enjoyed international success as a songwriter and an artist. My success in such a short period of time magnified the business dealings with my recording and management companies. Soon, business disagreements deteriorated our musical relationship and eventually terminated our successful venture. In 1974, I left Invictus.
In 1978, I returned to the Carolinas with The Chairmen of the Board.
For the first time in eight years, I enjoyed performing music without the depression of the music business. I found an independent music industry that was still free of monopoly, politics and categorization. I felt the energy of an industry propelled by its loyal supporters.