Charles Johnson never wished anyone a Merry Christmas as far as I could recall, so I broke into the Blogmock Rec Room, busted the lock and opened the rusty hinge on the trap door hidden underneath the cat stuff behind the couch and climbed down into the stifling confines of The Boiler Room. I found a box marked “Christmas.”
You won’t find those legit comments via The Wayback Machine or on The World’s Greatest Search Engine, but there they are, a late, yet appreciated, Christmas present to Diary of Daedalus. Thank you, Charles.
In the spirit of giving, I went to Target today. The shipment will be a bit late, but it’s the thought that counts.
Merry Christmas Charles!
RIP George Duke, 1946-2013
He was a great musician and producer with a long history of success in the music industry. He was a jazz/funk/soul classic, and his collaborative efforts were amazing.
With Duke’s passing, Charles Johnson gave recognition, and properly so. Duke hired him on as a sideman, and Charles was in the spotlight as a guitar player for a while in the late 70s. Yet even with Duke’s passing, Charles made it about himself with a “He was my best friend” tweet.
Nice enough, but let’s be honest. Since 2001, Charles has only mentioned George Duke in passing, and only when a lizard asked him about his musical career. One could argue that Charles is humble and shy about his musical accomplishments, but anyone who’s followed Charles over the years knows that that’s not possible. He brags about everyone and everything – including things he had nothing to do with – except for his once promising career as a jazz fusion session guitarist. On that he’s relatively silent.
Prior to George Duke’s passing, Charles mentioned him fewer than a dozen times on Little Green Footballs since 2001. (In comparison, he’s mentioned David Duke almost 100. Go figger.) Okay, we’re drifting from the point a bit.
Jumping into the BRC’s Deep Freeze Chamber, we found a few strawberries regarding George Duke, and here are the pertinent ones, (recreated verbatim via
The Nil Stooge Replic-O-Graph):
Let’s pause for a moment. It was Charles’ first time in a recording studio, and the track was “epic” because he played on it. Okay, let’s continue.
Pause again. Charles says it was Duke’s best lineup because Charles was in it. Next.
Charles Johnson has NO gold or platinum records to his name. True, he played during recording sessions for others’ records that went gold and platinum, but as for his claim to co-authorship of one of George Duke’s biggest hits? Woof. He hadn’t even been invited to a garden party when that went down. (If you haven’t yet listened to Duke’s cool funk jam at the top of this post, listen to it now.)
“Reach For It” became the hit from this record. It broke out of Washington DC and Detroit before the rest of the nation. We were on tour when the record hit, and were amazed at seeing the record moving to the top of the R&B chart.
The tune came about as a result of a gig at The Cellar Door in Washington DC. Ndugu had played a drum solo, and started playing this beat. I began to play this bass line and motioned for Byron Miller to play a solo. The audience went completely nuts. I knew that we had something!
Back in Los Angeles when we were in the studio recording (I waited until after dinner and wine), I asked the band if they remembered that groove we had come up with at the club in DC. They said they did, so we recorded it. —George Duke
Nowhere in Duke’s own description or in any discography is the name Charles “Icarus” Johnson mentioned as “co-writer” of “Reach For It.” No surprise, eh?
As an aside, while we were compiling research for The Ruse And Fail Series, we contacted as many people as we could think of and asked for anecdotes about Charles Johnson, with no leading questions or innuendo. Many responded with benign stories and gave similar descriptions: he was odd, quietly nervous, uncomfortable. (Only one called him “fuckface.”) Yet no one in the music industry, including Al Jarreau, Stanley Jordan, Billy Cobham and George Duke, even acknowledged Charles Johnson’s existence. Just as Johnson is mostly silent about his musical past, so is everyone else who hired him.
[By 1979] Charles Johnson had left the band (after I gave him money to help buy a Volkswagen I might add) and I began using Roland Bautista on guitar, who eventually took Al McKay’s place with Earth, Wind & Fire. —George Duke
We need not speculate further, but who cares. The guy is a narcissistic ego-dick who can play guitar and annoy the hell out of everyone who tries to help at the same time. That’s just a guess on my part.
Irish Rose’ classic suckup (Comment #149 above) was a bizarre interpolation of Charles’ Comment #147, presented here in its original form.
Heh. Carlos Dangler. Heheheheh.