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The Original Guitar Hero and the Power of Music


The Legendary Lonnie Johnson, Music and Civil Rights

By Dean Alger

Companion CD, “The Ultimate Best of Lonnie Johnson,” is also available.

“Lonnie Johnson was a guitar legend before we knew what they were. You can trace his 
playing style in a direct line through T-Bone Walker and B.B. King to Eric Clapton.”
—Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones bass player, in Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey)

Lonnie Johnson was Founding Father of the powerful, virtuoso guitar solo in Blues & Jazz—and ultimately for all of popular music. He influenced everyone from Robert Johnson to B.B. King to Ry Cooder to great Country Music guitarist Chet Atkins to top jazz guitarists—plus Elvis Presley as a singer (analyzed in the book & shown on the CD). He made historic recordings with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Bob Dylan cited Lonnie in his memoir.

The book is much more than an old musician biography: It discusses the nature of the guitar, how artistry on the guitar developed, and how it became the dominant instrument in popular music and a cultural icon. Another theme—an inspiring, vital story—is how Blues and Jazz, and other music spawned by them, plus the great musicians involved, played a major role in progress on Civil Rights. The book is about “The Power of Music,” on multiple levels.

“This book is great! Besides the superb review and assessment of Lonnie Johnson’s music and life, the perspectives on development of artistry on the guitar and broader societal impacts make this a profoundly meaningful book. Lonnie Johnson’s importance for 20th century music is monumental; this book is long over due in spelling out why.”
— Lawrence Cohn, former Vice President of Columbia/Epic Records, Grammy-winning 
producer of “Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings,” editor of Nothing But The Blues

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