General Johnson, Singer and Writer of Hit R&B Songs, Dies at 69

October 26, 2010


General Johnson, who provided the distinctive lead vocal for the Chairmen of the Board’s 1970 Top 10 hit, “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” and went on to become a successful rhythm-and-blues songwriter, died Wednesday in suburban Atlanta. He was 69 and lived in East Point, Ga.

His death was announced on the group’s official Web site, chairmenoftheboard.com. The cause was complications of lung cancer, his family said.

Mr. Johnson, whose first name really was General, was best known as a singer but won a Grammy in 1971 for his composition “Patches,” a Top 10 hit for Clarence Carter. He also wrote hits for the Honey Cone (“Want Ads,” “Stick-Up”) and Freda Payne (“Bring the Boys Home”).

He first reached the pop charts in 1961 as the lead singer of the Showmen, whose song “It Will Stand,” which he wrote, was a defiant ode to the power of rock ’n’ roll:

Some folks don’t understand it

That’s why they don’t demand it

They’re out tryin’ to ruin

Forgive them for they know not what they’re doin’.

He moved to Detroit in 1969 to become a member of the Chairmen of the Board, a group being formed by the songwriters and producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, who had recently left Motown to form their own label, Invictus.

The group’s first single, “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” reached No. 3 on the Billboard singles chart, largely on the strength of Mr. Johnson’s plaintive, boisterous vocal. But after a few more hits, the group broke up.

Mr. Johnson had limited success as a solo artist, and the Chairmen of the Board eventually reunited and found an enthusiastic audience in the South, especially in beachfront communities in North Carolina, where the upbeat brand of rhythm and blues for which the group is known is commonly referred to as beach music.

General Norman Johnson was born in Norfolk, Va., on May 23, 1941, and began singing in church as a young boy. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Julia; two sons, Norman and Antonio; a daughter, Sonya Johnson Payne; his sister, Barbara Lathers; and five grandchildren. (SOURCE: NY TIMES 10/15/2010)

We lost the General on 10/13/10  and I was only able to Tweet about it when I found out, but I didn’t want to forget to post his obituary here for his fans and for OSML posterity. Of course “Give Me Just A Little More Time” was my song back in the day so enjoy it now in honor of the lead singer General Norman Johnson. May he R.I.P.

Sounds great doesn’t it.  What a distinctive vocal style he had. Brings back lots of great memories. 1970 was a fab year for this teenager. How about you?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Old School Songs October 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm

wow…i didnt know he died…but i love this song…i remember playing it at a wedding i was djing and it got all the mature folks on the dance floor…lol

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2 SonDan October 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I am not surprised at all that this song got folks on the dance floor Gary. It is irresistible, as were all of the great pop songs General Johnson wrote. He will be remembered and musically missed by many.
Thanks so much for your visit and participation. Hope to hear from you again real soon.

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