Tommy Johnson was born on the George Miller plantation, (near Terry, Mississippi) in January 1896. Tommy Johnson was related to Alonzo Lonnie Johnson, though Tommy did not get the music from him but from his mother's many brothers who played a variety of instruments. An elder brother among the 13 Johnson children began to play guitar and to teach Tommy when he was 15 or so. The following year he ran away from home with a woman several years older than himself. The move seems to have shaped his music. It seems very likely that he made contact with the cluster of blues singers gathered around Charley Patton and Willie Brown at Drew up in the delta and to have learned a lot from them. Back in Terry in1914 he played for a while with his brother. He married Maggie Bidwell around this time and together they went up to the delta meeting up with Patton, Willie Brown, Dick Branston and other musicians. The blues group Canned Heat took their band name from Tommy Johnson's song 'Canned Heat Blues' which is part of this collection. 'Cool Drink of Water Blues' and 'Canned Heat Blues' are by far the best known of Johnson's works, but they've got a lot of pieces surrounding them. 'Big Road Blues' is a fine showcase for Johnson's and Charlie McCoy's paired guitars. And 'Bye Bye Blues' and 'Maggie Campbell Blues' show off his unique vocal qualities. This collection is nearly all of Tommy Johnson's known recordings.
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