I don’t remember if I wrote about him on my old blog but.. What the hell.. Today I’d like to quickly write a little about Johnny Kemp. Johnny was a talented Bohemian singer who started his music career in the late 70s. He had a unique look and a unique sound. Johnny did not hit it big until about ten years later, when he released his smash hit “Just Got Paid (1988).” The song shot up to #1 on both R&B/Hip Hop & the Dance Charts. This song was made for Johnny, I never thought that anybody could thing that song the way he did. Also, seeing him dance to this song on his music video was electrifying in my opinion. By mid video, it reminded me a lot of the original “Fame (1980)” soundtrack video.
“Just Got Paid” was the biggest hit of his career. In fact I think that was his only #1. On The same album, he had a #5 dance hit called “Dancin’ With Myself (1988).” I didn’t particularly like that song, but a lot of people did. After shaking my ass to “Just Got Paid,” it seems like this song was a downgrade or something. It just didn’t seem danceable to me. However, I did love his 1986 song called “Just Another Lover.” The song only peaked at #26 on the Dance Charts.
Johnny died in 2015, at the young age of 55. As far as I can tell, I still don’t think there was an official cause of death. According to what I’ve read, he fell over a cruise ship he was actually scheduled to perform in. I’m not even sure if they knew exactly how he fell. I guess for most, it was written off as a freak accident.
Today I’d like to talk about the late legendary Bobby Womack; who is arguably one of the hardest working men in show-business. I say arguably because I think originally the late James Brown earned that phrase. In fact, the music industry used that phrase so much that it literally became James Brown’s slogan. You didn’t even have to mention Mr. Brown’s name, people already knew who they meant. Now, depending on who you talk to, Womack may not have worked as hard as James (comparatively speaking), however, Womack has certainly paid his dues to the industry.
Mr. Womack Was A Secret History Maker!
Womack was one of those secret history makers. The average Womack fan has no idea how much he helped to change history. For instance, did you know Womack wrote and performed a song called “It’s All Over Now (1964)” with his group called The Valentinos; which eventually became The Rolling Stones first number one hit in the UK? Not impressed? Well how about this tidbit… Did you know who originally discovered Bobby Womack and his family? It was the late Sam Cooke! Yup! After Sam saw what the Womack family can do musically, Sam damn near signed Bobby’s entire family to his record label, which was called SAR back then.
Wow, I never realized till today just how much Bobby resembled Lou Rawls. Bobby’s life’s work payed off in a huge way, as he was inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Throughout Bobby’s career, he has worked with some huge names in the business. Many include Sly & The Family Stone, Janis Japlin, and George Benson to name a few. After reading some of the things Bobby has gone through, including the murder of one of his brothers (in Bobby’s home) by a jealous girl friend, noway would I have thought that after all that trauma, he would have had the frame of mind to still be musically creative. This man went through a slot of sh*t. But then again, he had the support that most artists didn’t in his era.
One of my most favorite songs from Womack I can remember, was a cover he did of The Mamas & The Papas’s song “California Dreamin’” in 1969. I actually love both versions. I was blown away Bobby reinterpreted the song inside out. The bass and the rhythm made me feel I was listening to a blaxploitation movie soundtrack. Another favorite of mine is a popular hit called “Across 110th Street (1972),” a story of street life in the ghetto. Also, check out a song called “Lookin’ For A Love (1974).”For some reason, every time I hear him sing “Lookin’ For A Love,” I almost always think of Wilson Pickett.
ny time we talk about rock legends (for those of us who are old enough), what are the names that usually pop up immediately in our heads? I think it’s safe to say that the one name that’s always on the top of that list is Elvis Presley, you agree? Maybe another name that would probably pop up is, the legendary Chuck Berry? Or perhaps I should drop one more name. How about Bill Haley & The Comets? Although their probably only known today (if any), by their massive global hit, “Rock Around The Clock (1973),” which was the opening theme song to the TV cult classic “Happy Days.” It was a pretty good show I may add. Who would have ever thought that Ron Howard would move on to be a big time movie producer huh?
Although I’ve just named some good ones, there is one major rock legend that (in my opinion) seems to slip from many people’s memories. That is Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry was like a one man Beatle(s), that’s the easiest way to describe just how popular this man’s music was, to those who are not familiar with him. This guy has published so many albums, he can literally have his own library. Although he’s best remembered for his rock ‘n’ roll, he also done a lot of country music as well. In fact, quite a few of them rose to #1. However, to be quite honest, I much preferred his wild “Chuck Berry” style of rock ‘n’ roll. Most if not all his country put me to sleep (and you guys should know by now, I love me some classic country music, but I’ll have to pass on Jerry’s country 😂). Now, I could be wrong with what I’m about to say, but I am just going by my memories of actually listening to his music growing up. I’m going to say that based on my opinion that Jerry’s song “Great Balls Of Fire,” released in 1957 was one of his (if not the) biggest memorable song in his entire career. I say this because out of all the other songs I’ve heard by Jerry, I remembered this one to be the dominant song on the radio. It reached #2 on the Top 100 Charts, and #1 on the Hot Country Charts. It was ranked 96 as the greatest song ever made according to Rolling Stone Magazine.
So, it’s kind of difficult for me to find out just how many hit songs Jerry actually had, because some songs of his I personally would categorize as rock, is actually under country. So I’ve obtained a few numbers, I’m just going to assume they include all his hits. O.K., I have the following; 4 Number Ones, 23 Top Tens, out of a total of 55 songs that actually made it to The Billboard Music Charts. This was impressive, considering his career could have been completely destroyed, after a scandal that broke about him marrying his cousin. Americans didn’t tolerate those things in the 50s (still don’t), and it’s quite shocking that he found venues to even perform after that. Now imagine the public rage, when the story broke about director Woody Allen married his adopted daughter. Jerry’s scandal was 10 times worse.
Jerry is now about 83 or 84 years old, alive and kicking. I’ve read some sources that say he’s still performing. Other songs I’ve enjoyed were “What’d I Say,” which was originally song by Ray Charles I believe. Finally a song called “Jailhouse Rock,” which I believe Elvis sang this song as well. Despite Jerry’s scandal somehow he still managed to achieve legendary status in rock music. If not for his music, he still would have been legendary for the scandal. Either way.Save up to 94% off cover price on your favorite magazines