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Ella Johnson: 1917-2004
Ella Johnson
vocalist

Born: 1917 in Darlington, SC
Died: February 16, 2004 in New York, NY

Dance-band singer

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins

Singer Ella Johnson, who scored some hits performing with her brother Buddy's band in the 1940s, died in New York City on February 16, 2004. She was 86 years old.

Buddy Johnson was leading a popular band at the Savoy Ballroom when his sister Ella came to New York as a teenaged singer. She was soon being compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday for her warm, seamless style, though she could also let it fly on the band's more energetic numbers. Ella Johnson scored her first big hit with the band, "Please, Mr. Johnson", in 1940. Subsequent hits included "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?", "When My Man Comes Home" and "Hittin' On Me". Ella's popular 1945 recording of "Since I Fell For You", composed by her brother, led to its eventual establishment as a jazz standard. She continued to perform with Buddy into the 1960s.

Ms. Johnson is survived by her husband, Odell Day; four brothers, Edward Parrott and Earl Johnson of Darlington, and Allan and Wesley Parrott of New York; sister Hattie Miller of Landover, Md.; nephew James Johnson, Jr.; and granddaughter Lisa.


Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.

E-mail: Epistrophy@aol.com

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With 4 reader comments, latest May 25, 2007