(The following is an article from Beach Music Monthly, May 1993 -- Dick McVey, Editor)
When you talk about Beach Music, one name is consistently mentioned -- General Johnson. General Norman Johnson to be exact.
The General, in his career, is responsible for writing and recording a number of hit songs, both on the national level and in the Beach Music market.
On the national level, General Johnson is probably best known for the million selling hit, Give Me Just A Little More Time. The song, released in 1969 on the Invictus label out of Detroit, was recorded with the group he still heads, The Chairmen Of The Board.
General Johnson's contributions to Beach Music and the Rhythm & Blues markets are enormous. He is credited with writing and recording several Beach Music classics, including "It Will Stand", considered by some as the national anthem of Beach and Rock Music (by the way, it was a B side).
Johnson has come a long way since the early years in Norfolk, Virginia, where he started singing in church with his father at the tender age of six. He had a recording contract with Atlantic Records at age 12, with a group called "The Humdingers". Then the big break came when Johnson was a senior in high school. His group, now the infamous beach band The Showmen were given a recording contract with Minit Records, which produced five singles, including 39-21-40 Shape, a beach music classic, and It Will Stand.
In 1968, The General began negotiating with Invictus Records in Detroit and legendary songwriters / producers, Holland-Dozier-Holland. This trio of writers had written many number 1 hits for the hottest & B acts of the time, and saw the potential General Johnson had for writing and recording hit material. Negotiations went well, and The Chairmen Of The Board emerged in 1969 with Give Me Just A Little More Time, a smash hit.
The Holland-Dozier-Holland team are credited by The General for much of his song writing success during this period. In 1970, Johnson wrote Pay To The Piper, which was recorded by The Chairmen Of The Board, and featured the lead vocal of Danny Woods. This would become their second best selling record. Other artists and producers were also scrambling for songs written by Johnson, and during the 70's, his songs were topping the charts on a regular basis. The group Honey Cone had a big hit with Want Ads, Stick Up and One Monkey Don't Stop No Show. Clarence Carter recorded Patches which launched him into the national spotlight and earned General Johnson a Grammy Award. The group 100 Proof recorded Somebody's Been Sleeping In My Bed, which got Johnson a second Grammy nomination. In 1972, he was given the "R & B Songwriter of the Year" award by BMI.
Johnson appeared on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand", at The Apollo Theater in New York, on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show", and at many sold out concerts both in the United States and overseas.
Johnson found that all the fame came with a price. Pressure to continue to produce top selling records as a writer and artist, created differences with record executives who wanted to tell him how to write and record. The General longed for the days in Carolina, and he and business agent Mike Branch moved their operations to Charlotte, North Carolina, and started Surfside Records. The move allowed him the freedom to be in charge from a creative standpoint and to return to the music he loves -- Beach Music.
The Chairmen of the Board continued to turn out such classics as On The Beach, Carolina Girls, Gone Fishin, When Can I See You Again, You Don't Know What Love Is and on and on.
General Johnson, Danny Woods, and Ken Knox are The Chairmen Of The Board, and have worked together since 1972 (the group was not together from 1975-1979, while The General was with Arista). They continue to be one of the top acts in the Beach Music market working over 250 dates each year.
|Danny Woods||Ken Knox|
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