posted by Robert J. Carmack #blues2jazzguy
When this writer was a very young kid he use to watch these old black and white movies with Mickey Rooney where the friends all wanted to get the band together and do shows. Years later, Now in high school he performs in talent shows and weekend parties. He meets others like him who are talented and want to pursue their dreams of reaching their music and entertainment goals.
Harold Johnson is one of those people who dreamed about one day making it in the entertainment. While most of us teenagers was chasing girls around the campus or showing off on the athletic field, Harold Johnson and a close-knit group of guys were huddled up “talking sharps and flats” in the music room. Then on weekends they would jam at each other’s parent’s den or garages , trying to get tight so they could get a gig. the “Ultimate” for any budding young musician.
Along the way there were great music teachers and people of influence, one such person that taught young Harold was the late Jazz Crusaders piano, Joe Sample…apparently Joe taught him well… about theory, performance and production, including the “Business” part of the music world.
In the middle of the “Motown Era” circa 1966 a group of high students got together with a mature 16-year-old Harold. They secured the funds to go into the studio, and come out with a Hot product(“Sorry ‘Bout That“) which began to pick up traction on the local radio scene. Along with live concerts at the high schools,community centers and anywhere they could get a crowd and play, soon a large record label(REVUE) came along and pushed out an album that commanded major air-time. Even the major jazz and soul stations played the 45.
It was heard at college stations, high schools, on Juke boxes in cafes, barber shops, there were few places you didn’t hear House on Elm Street. Even Cats from the Nam‘ had heard about it and shared the music overseas . I was lucky enough to see them live at the beginning of their musical journey…I was in the Centennial High School Band with one of the members, David Crawford, Flute , who at that time already had “Hubert Laws/Herbie Mann skills” reputation around campus ala the very talent rich school shows in the mid-1960s. members of recording band were Jimmy Nash on Bass,Alfred Patterson Alto sax,Eddie Synigal Alto sax, Mike Shaw Tenor sax,Ronald Rutledge Drums,Billy Jackson Congos/percussion, David Crawford Flute, and Harold Johnson leader/Piano.
The hot album , House On Elm Street released in 1967, made Harold very popular on his high school campus at Washington High School in Los Angeles. while being another school chock full of talented student musicians (Darryl”Munyungo” Jackson, Nate Morgan). By the second album, Everyone Loves a Winner, some new players joined the group or recorded with Harold , a very young Leon “NDUGU” Chanceler, drums, Vibes with Larry Nash,(brother of Jimmy Nash).
Currently,Harold T. Johnson Sr. is an accomplished Producer, Writer and Arranger. He’s a California State University Dominguez Hills Graduate, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education. Also a Gold Album recipient for Thelma Houston’s “Anyway You Like It” Album and the 5th Dimension “Star Dancing” Album and Platinum Album recipient for the Temptations Christmas Classic “Give Love At Christmas.” Major hits writer for LTD Concentrate on You & Atlantic Starr “Get Closer (than Close) just to name a couple.
While a Producer, Writer and Arranger: Over forty of Harold’s songs were recorded by Artists such as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stanley Turrentine, Devastating Affair, Smokey Robinson, Sylvester, Nate Dogg, Harold Johnson II, Natalia Johnson, Stephanie Mills, Olivia Reese, Liz Mc Comb, Jerry Butler, 21st Creation, Three Ounces Of Love, Dennis Edwards, Z.Z. Hill, Thelma Houston, Tata Vega, Michael Wycoff, Atlantic Starr, Rockie Robbins, Gloria Gaynor, LTD and Jeffrey Osbourne, The OJAYS, The Temptations and more.
Through-out his illustrious career as “industry-behind-the-scenes” legend, He also worked as an educator inside the LA Unified School district. Capturing a NAACP image award nomination for a Musical-2005 ~ “At the Lincoln”
After 50 years as a professional entertainer,producer,arranger & musician.. He’s still hungry for new music and creating new songs, but his real passion is now “pastoring” his own flock at his church,just as his father did before him..Bravo Harold T. .Bravo!!
Catch Harold Johnson & Friends at Catalina’s Bar & Grill.
Harold JOHNSON Sextet & Company “Back On Elm Street Reunion” w/ Harold Johnson(keys, vocalist & writer)
Feat: David Crawford(flute), Ndugu Chanceler(drums), Welton Gite(bass),, Munyungo Jackson(percussions), Gemi Taylor(guitar), Rickey Woodard(saxophone), vocals by Deborah White, Joyce Wilson, Pamela Vincent & Olivia Reese
Thursday, Jan 14, 2016 8:30 PM
Catalina Bar & Grill, Hollywood, CA.
6725 West Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood California 90028
Phone: (323) 466-2210
(one block EAST of Highland Ave.)
ENTRANCE on McCadden
3 thoughts on “GROOVIN’ ON ELM STREET…AGAIN ~ THE HAROLD JOHNSON SEXTET”
Great article Cosmo. We were very fortunate to have had musicians like yourself and all of the others mentioned. Went to school with you and David Crawford, and grew up in church with Leon Chancelor (Ndugu). You cannot buy experiences like we had!!!!
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Thank you Jay for for your important comments and reactions.. We welcome any suggestions you may have regarding types of interviews or musicians or discussions on the “Scene” in general.