Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Passing of General Johnson

General Johnson has died. And, no, I am not maudlin over a Confederate army officer. General Norman Johnson was the lead singer of the Chairman of the Board, that great Carolina Beach band with such big hits as Carolina Girls, Give Me Just a Little More Time, I'd Rather be in Carolina, You've Got Me Dangling on String, and Gone Fishin'. 

I have spent many an hour on a dance floor, a drive way, the beach, or a porch dancing to their tunes. And, if you are familiar with their music, I bet you are humming along right now to your favorite song. We were in school during the days of punk rock, disco, and the Rolling Stones - but then everyone during the past 40 years has been in school during the days of the Rolling Stones - but I digress.

Even as those songs were being played on the radio and were top ten hits, in the low country there was always Carolina Beach Music. It went along with good friends, fun times, and beer. I learned to dance to big band and beach music. My girls also learned to dance to beach music. They listened to the same songs (and bands) we did (do). I cannot tell you the number of times I went to dances where General Johnson and the Chairman of the Board were the band for the evening. 

Of course, there were also those events with the Drifters, the Coasters, the Embers, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, the Tams, and the Catalinas. I can remember one summer, my sorority had a house at Ocean Drive and we had been having a large time at Crazy Zack's (a famous haunt). When the last call came, we just told the Swinging Medallions to follow us down the street. Thirty minutes later, we had them set-up in our back yard and the party continued.

General Johnson was a Grammy Award winning artist, one of the giants of this musical genre. And, he was young - only 67. It is sad I will never see him perform live again, but I am grateful for his talent and his contribution to Carolina Beach Music. Every time I hear one of those songs, I am taken back to moment or so in my past when life was carefree and the music was the background of a wonderful youth. "Just give me a little more time. . ."

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