Sunday, August 1, 2021

We Remember: Legendary Bassist Louis Johnson (Brothers Johnson) Dies at 60

louis johnson

*Sadly as we enter the Memorial Day Weekend, we have to report the death of funk and R&B bassist Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson. He died at age 60 on Thursday (05-21-15).

As of this posting, the details of his passing are not known, but Johnson’ death was confirmed by his nephew Troy on Instagram. In addition to being a founding member of the Brothers Johnson with his brother George, Louis was a longtime collaborator of Quincy Jones. You can hear his artistry on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Off the Wall,” and even Jones’ “Mellow Madness” album.

Back in the mid-70s to early 80s the Brothers Johnson was all over the radio and R&B and Pop charts with hits like 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” 1977’s “Strawberry Letter 23” and 1980’s “Stomp!” In fact, fans of the Brothers Johnson will recall that their 1976 debut, “Look Out for #1” was produced by Jones and even could brag that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson sang back up on their 4th platinum release, “Light Up the Night.”

But what made Louis Johnson stand out for a lot of music fans was his style of playing which earned him the nick name of “Thunder Thumbs.” And as Billboard points out, he was also one of the pioneers of slap bass, making him an in-demand session player for everyone from Stanley Clarke to Donna Summer. Many of his classic grooves for artists like George Duke and Michael McDonald have also received a second life as some of hip-hop’s most popular samples.

“He was a dear and beloved friend and brother,” Quincy Jones told Rolling Stone, “and I will miss his presence and joy of life every day.”

Read/learn MORE about the death of legendary bassist Louis Johnson at Rolling Stone.

Watch/listen to musical tribute to Louis Johnson with music from the Brothers Johnson:




BONUS: Louis Johnson jams and performs Billie Jean (Michael Jackson) [live]:

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19 COMMENTS

  1. No! They were one of my faves during the seventies, and I was really hoping they’d have a reunion. Condolences to his family and may he rest in peace.

  2. I did a double take when I was on radiofacts. and saw that this brother passed away.

    Louis along with his brother George helped elevate my taste in music,they really gave you your moneys worth when you purchased their albums.,props for that,because I was a kid and it was a great investment.

    I first remember hearing them on Q’s Mellow Madness Album,Is It Love That We’re Missing.but I could have heard them before but just didn’t know it. Then they came out with their own jams and they were jams,some vocal,some instrumental,all sounded great.They had their own sound and it was never duplicated!

    I hate to have to single out Get The Funk Out of My Face but we used to sing that song, and we changed funk to well you know.

    It was so much fun to do that with big smiles on our faces,cause we thought that was what they were saying and we loved it..And when we found out it wasnt,we still said it.

    That was up there with Shit goddamn get off your ass and jam by Funkadelic.

    Shout out to Ken Spider Webb who played their song Tomorrow damn near every time he cracked the mike when he did mornings on WBLS!

    They continued to crank out the hits,a lot of them not just the pop ones and I am a big fan. To me their music was really well put together,mellow,cool,funky and fun.

    So sorry to hear Thunder Thumbs has left us.

    Thank you Louis and you George and the rest of the crew for again helping to mold my musical taste. I officially feel older now,but not old,lol..

    Now I guess they will be on Unsung,because it seems like that show always has a sad ending.

  3. God Bless the family of Louis Johnson. I remember George and Louis from Crenshaw High School. May the music memory live on. I have followed them since the 1970’s. Thank you Bros. Johnson for your musical style. Luv ya’ll.

  4. Another great loss this year! Brothers Johnson music helped define the 70’s. Strawberry Letter 23 and Stomp are unforgettable, My condolences to the Johnson family.

  5. Condolences to the Johnson Family, and I’m happy that both brothers put their issue aside before George died. May God rest his soul.

  6. Like anotha album title that came out in the mid 70s by anotha great phunky a** group by the name of Graham Central Station (aka) GCS in later dates & times of course if you were able to hitch a ride on (tpxt)/ the phunk xpress train of which (GCS) apptly had an album titled (Ain’t No Bout A Doubt It) of which as George Johnson said it in their song (ROT) phrom the 1977 album of the same title of course he said that the (PHUNK WUZ COMING) Right On Time …….. And guess wut people around the world (THE BROTHERS JOHNSON) kept true too their word & brought it to the entire world for the whole world to hear. Not only did we hear it …….. We phelt the vibe & we let the vibe phlow thru ……… Yes GOD puts us all for a reason & Louis (THUNDER THUMBS) Johnson proved that thru out his time here on earth that evry person has a purpose in life …….. And his wuz to show the world wut his purpose wuz & he lived up to that ……….. Now go on (TT) & phinally (RIP/RIH) (04/13/55 – 05/21/15) you’ve proved you made your impact to the world now go on
    home LOUIS ? JOHNSON go on home & phinally rest & relax our (Brother)………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. RIP my brother Louis. I go way back as a fan of the brothers. They truly exercised their God given talent by always giving 100 percent heart and soul performances. I remember dancing and watching these brothers perform back stage at Mount Carmel High School in Los Angeles.
    I graduated with George from Crenshaw High in 71. They were very popular and kept us
    dancing in the Multi-Purpose Room. Keeping your family in my prayers…

  8. Louis Johnson RIP. The music of the Brothers Johnson was truly Funky, Mad Cool, And Yes For Real. The music is and will always be legendary…So many memories…May your next adventure be forever filled with music, and of course your BASS

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