Louis Johnson Of The "Brothers Johnson" Dies At Age 60

Louis Johnson, founding member of funk band the Brothers Johnson and an in-demand bassist who appeared on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” died on Thursday, May 21st. He was 60. Johnson’s nephew Troy confirmed his death to Rolling Stone, though a cause of death has yet to be revealed. The Los Angeles-based Brothers Johnson, a group featuring Louis and his brother George, got their start backing up Quincy Jones before releasing their acclaimed, Jones-produced debut LP “Look Out for #1” in 1976. Over the next five years, the Brothers Johnson racked up three Number One hits on the R&B charts: 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” their 1977 cover of Shuggie Otis“Strawberry Letter 23,” and 1980’s smash “Stomp!” (Their rendition of "Strawberry Letter 23" was later featured prominently in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.

The Brothers Johnson’s 1980 album “Light Up the Night,” featuring “This Had to Be” co-written by Michael Jackson and featuring the King of Pop on background vocals, ascended to the top of the R&B album charts. After the brothers parted ways in the early Eighties to pursue solo careers, Louis became known for his bass-playing prowess, emerging as a prolific, in-demand session musician. Johnson served as the primary bassist on Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and later lent his skills to Jackson’s “Thriller” (“Billie Jean,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” “P.Y.T.”), Paul McCartney’s “Give My Regards to Broad Street” soundtrack and the all-star “We Are the World” collaboration. As news of Johnson’s death spread, hip-hop artists, funk legends and bassists inspired by “Thunder Thumbs” showed love on social media. “Thank you for blessing me and the world with your original #funk. RIP,”Lenny Kravitz tweeted, while Bootsy Collins added, “Another Brick in our music foundation has left the building. Mr. ‘Louis Johnson.’”Slave’s Steve Arrington wrote, “Just heard the great bass player and song writer Louis Johnson has passed away. Awe man.... Going to miss U Thunder Thumbs.”

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