b. Lou Johnson, 11th February 1941, Bedford Stuyvesant Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.A.
d. 1st May 2019, San Bernardino, California, U.S.A.
Lou Johnson was an American soul singer, pianist & percussionist.
His most successful recording period came in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Lou’s family all had musical backgrounds. His mother and father were both keyboard players.
He studied music at Brooklyn University.
Lou learned keyboards and percussion, forming a gospel group called the Zionettes.
the canjoes in 1961
In 1961, he formed another group called the Canjoes, (along with with Tresia Cleveland and Ann Gissendammer).
The group released the single 'Dance The Boomerang' b/w 'Speaking Of Love' for the DAPT imprint.
Cleveland and Gissendanner then formed the duo, the Soul Sisters.
In 1962, Lou signed with the Bigtop Records imprint.
The label was run by the Hill & Range music publishing company in the Brill Building.
It was there that Lou met Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who wrote Johnson's first single, ‘If I Never Get to Love You’.
The follow up ‘You Better Let Him Go’, were both hits.
A third single, the Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned ’Reach Out for Me’ reached number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1963.
Hill & Range then folded as a company.
The song ‘Magic Potion’ (the flip of ‘Reach Out For Me’) became popular on the U.K.’s Northern Soul scene.
Lou then signed to the Big Hill imprint, recording more Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs.
In 1964, Lou recorded the original version of ‘(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me’ (later a U.K. hit for Sandie Shaw.
He went on to record the original versions of several other Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs.
These included ‘Reach Out for Me’, ‘Message to Michael (Kentucky Bluebird)’ (originally ‘A Message to Martha’), and ‘(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me’.
In 1965, Lou had signed to the Bigtop imprint.
That year he also appeared on the British TV programme Ready Steady Go!
Lou went on to release the singles ‘Anytime’ and a version of ‘Walk On By’ (co-produced by Allen Toussaint).
He released an album, (also called ‘Anytime’), which was not released at the time.
A single ‘A Time To Love, A Time To Cry’, was flipped by the Northern Soul favourite ‘Unsatisfied’.
Lou released two further albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
sweet southern soul - 1969 / with you in mind - 1972
These included, ‘Sweet Southern Soul’, for Cotillion Records in 1969, and ‘With You In Mind’, for the Stax's Volt imprint in 1972.
Lou then relocated to Orange County, California, where he became a nightclub entertainer.
He also performed for a later version of the Ink Spots.
In 2017, Lou had become unwell. He passed away in 2019.
Sweet Southern Soul (Cotillion Records 1969)
With You In Mind (Volt Records 1971)