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Beach music great General Johnson dies

GJ_berry

Courtesy www.chairmenoftheboard.com

General Norman Johnson, lead singer of the soul vocal trio Chairmen of the Board, died Wednesday at age 67.

His group was best known for the song “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” a favorite of Carolina beach music and shag dancing aficionados. It’s a defining song of the Southern soul sub-genre. The track climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard singles chart in 1970. The group would release three more Top 40 hits in 1970, but that was the end of the Chairmen’s chart run.

Johnson was born in Virginia but started his career in Raleigh, N.C., with another beach music phenomenon, the Showmen (“It Will Stand”), before relocating to Detroit in the late 1960s. The Chairmen of the Board came together there, but the group later flew south, where there was always demand for the singers who created beach music’s classics.

According to the Charolotte Observer, Johnson’s bandmate Ken Knox says that the band moved south in the early ’80s. Johnson settled in Atlanta, but Knox came to Charlotte, which is the headquarters of the group’s record label.

Though he’s probably best known for “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” Johnson won a Grammy for best R&B song in 1970 for writing Clarence Carter’s Top 5 hit “Patches,” a hard-luck tearjerker about growing up poor.

For more on General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board, visit the band’s website.

Listen to the Chairmen of the Board’s signature hit.

37 comments Add your comment

jason

October 14th, 2010
5:06 pm

We are so saddened by General’s death. What happened?! We were also so sad and disgusted by Ken Knox’s interview today in which he left out the other main part of the Chairmen, for 40 years, Danny Woods! He took the whole interview and turned it into something about himself, rather than it being about General dying and the contribution General and his partner, Danny Woods, made to the beach music community. What a jerk of Ken Knox.

Janice

October 14th, 2010
5:17 pm

I must agree. The entire beach music family has been rocked to the core by this sad news. How horrible one member can be in averting the spotlight from the real honoree and shining it on themselves? I extend my condolences to the family of General Johnson. I have seen them play so many times I feel like I know them. The Chairman of the board has brought Easter to Myrtle Beach for years and I loved to go to the House of Blues to see them. I can’t believe they won’t be back. I know that the music will live on and hope that the remaining members, Danny Woods & Ken Knox, will make every effort to continue what General Johnson has so passionately started. Even though I haven’t seen anything about Danny Woods anywhere through this I am sure he’s suffering along with the rest of us who loved the General.

Jim Shores

October 14th, 2010
5:19 pm

I remember back in the early 80s when I lived in Greensboro, NC. going to see The Chairmen at a club called “The Boondocks”! They would perform there on a rotation along with The Embers, Clifford Curry and many, many more. They were in their heyday back then and General always mingled with the crowd between sets. Their music will live forever! RIP General Norman Johnson.

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connie

October 14th, 2010
6:11 pm

Lost a legend for sure. Beach music won’t be the same without Norman Johnson. I would hope the group could somehow hold together. That would be a great tribute to the main man. General Johnson will be missed. RIP friend. Thoughts and prayers go out to your family

Walter Bowden

October 14th, 2010
6:14 pm

I worked as a sound tech in some clubs around Wilmington, NC and saw the band many times. Very professional and a crowd favorite guaranteed to pack the place.
I also saw Danny and Kenny do some gigs without The General and they were good, but it really cooked when The General was commanding.
My sympathies go to his family and friends. We lost a star.

John & Steve (1996 - 2007 - Double Door Inn at the Lake)

October 14th, 2010
7:13 pm

As past club owners, Steve and I can say without a moment’s hesitation…General Johnson and the others were our very favorites and the crowd they drew (usually 450-600) loved them. I remember one event where the General was so sick and was feeling absolutely miserable and so I told him that if he wasn’t feeling up to it we could cancel the show for a future date…it was his call. He just hung his head down in the dressing room and said he’d make-it not to worry. They announced his name and immediately he stood up…put on a smile and did the best show we ever had throughout the years. The man was a total ‘PRO’ and I always had respect for General, Ken and Danny…and the band and although not in the business…still consider them ‘family’. We’ll miss you General and yet, we’ll all be together again one day…probably joining in to ‘Carolina Girls’. Ken and Danny, our thoughts are with you on this sad occasion…and I’m sure I speak for all the old DDInn crowd.

Renee

October 14th, 2010
7:44 pm

General Johnson was the greatest! It would make my day when I heard they were coming to do a show.We will miss you. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.

JMC

October 14th, 2010
7:58 pm

My husband and I have such great memories of General Norman Johnson in the Myrtle Beach area! For 30 years we have enjoyed his music and shows. “Patches” is always listed as a hit for Clarence Carter but it only took one time of hearing the General perform it live to know who really owned it! It didn’t get any better. He will be missed! God bless his family and friends!

marc

October 14th, 2010
8:03 pm

to jason, please until you understand the whole story dont be quick to engage in something you know nothing about. Ken and Danny have done a great job continuing the legacy since January. I know these guys personally and never in any world would it be about just one of them, they were always a team and that legacy will be in the hearts of millions. There was a great loss today and lets focus on that and not fueling a fire that you know nothing about.

RIP General, you were and always will be a great friend

todd

October 14th, 2010
8:04 pm

was a stage hand during some of the general’s myrtle beach show’s…he was a great man…never hesitated to shake your hand and ask you how you were doing…to me he was like the elvis of beach music…he will be missed.

dolly

October 14th, 2010
8:19 pm

Thanks for the GREAT comments MARC!!! And to Jason…..it saddens me to see you jump to conclusions when you are not “in the know” about General’s personal life and the very close relationship he and Ken had and Danny, too. It’s amazing that Ken has the peace of mind to conduct an interview less than 24 hours after his BEST friend passed. Let’s embrace the Chairmen with peace and love and not snippy remarks. General is smoozing with the “Beach Music Angels” who have gone before him like Joe Pope of The Tams. RIP General!! You were an AMAZING entertainer!!!

Vickie

October 14th, 2010
8:46 pm

Beach music fans all over will forever miss The General. My sincere sympathies go to the family. RIP General !!

Joanie

October 14th, 2010
9:13 pm

I am so sad. What a legend! General Johnson IS Beach Music. I wake up to him every day(CD). Ultimate performer, wonderful human being. He will be missed. RIP General, the world was a better place with you in it. Prayers to his family.

BikiniJoe

October 14th, 2010
11:33 pm

I knew Norman in the Showmen days (Mid 60’s) when our band the Impacts traveled with them as their back up band for a while. I can tell you the Showmen brought the house down and blew the doors off a club and if you did not see Norman (General) in those days he was something to watch work a crowd on stage. I left the music biz in the early 70’s but not before Mike Branch became a friend, he booked our band (Cannonball). Mike did the major Beach Music festivals before his plane crash and death left us all missing a very important part of the New beach music movement that was bringing new and younger people into it in the 70’s that are still around today. When Mike and Norman teamed up and started the record label it was the best thing that ever happened to Beach Music in my opinion. Mike left us over 30 years ago and now it seems Norman “General” Johnson has left us but he has also left us with his Songs…and as he once said something like “I can’t do anything else…I can write a song”, and I might add some real GOOD ONES! http://ODShag.com

Kim Simmons

October 15th, 2010
12:44 am

So sad!!!! I so loved them! I saw the group numerous times here at the beach and also in NC. He always had a smile on his face and performed and looked at you as if he was performing just for you. There will never be another Beach Music entertainer to touch him. You will be greatly missed! Thank you for your great music and memories until we meet again.

Kim-NC

Brother Dave

October 15th, 2010
5:42 am

Beach music will live on as long as there is a guy and a girl and a moon and the surf and the sand. However, General Johnson to me is first and foremost an entertainer. I was lucky enough (or cursed enough) to have worked with him a few times. I’m telling you right now that never in my life have I seen an entertainer like Norman Johnson. You could not pry him offstage with the Jaws of Life rescue tool. If there was ever a born entertainer, if there as ever a gifted entertainer…it was the General.

Brother Dave

October 15th, 2010
5:43 am

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Big Dave

October 15th, 2010
7:27 am

The Boondocks, Bill Griffin’s Labor Day Picnic, Johnny Dollar’s (CHT), Carowinds, and other outdoor venues in Myrtle, Emerald Isle, Raleigh and Richmond, I saw my favorite band as much as possible. Over the years, General called me up on stage numerous times for the Funky Chicken competition. He, Danny and Ken belted out sheer delight to thousands for decades! Heaven is movin’ and groovin’ now…

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AJ

October 15th, 2010
9:04 am

I worked with General, Danny and Ken for quite a while. They were and will be, truly one of the great group of entertainers ever. All you had to do was go to one of their shows and you felt good. Their energy took over your whole being. You couldn’t help but to feel alive and energized. You just had to take part in it with them. Ken and General spoke several times everyday and were almost like the same person. Danny is one of the most caring people around. They will survive, and continue to entertain the Beach Music crowd for as long as there is a Beach Music crowd.

jsnipes

October 15th, 2010
9:16 am

If you had a clue as to what is going on behind the scenes with Chairman of the Board you would not have posted such a stupid comment but obviously you do not. Ken has been on the phone every other day with General and most weeks every day with him . You know why, because General trust Ken and knows who will take care of business. He has spent countless hours doing exactly what General has asked him to do. Why don’t you call Danny Woods up and ask him how often he has communicated with General. You know why Ken is doing interviews because that’s what General wanted. These 2 guys are brothers and share more than you can imagine. Get your facts straight before you start spouting off things you know nothing about.

Angela Sorrels Yurachek

October 15th, 2010
9:17 am

I have had a tear in my eye since hearing the news this morning on the Bob and Sherri show. For 30+ years I have loved The Chairmen of the Board and have followed their music. No beach music collection is complete without their music! He will be greatly and sadly missed! Rest in peace General Johnson.

Lisa

October 15th, 2010
9:34 am

Jason, I listened to the interview on Surf Radio too and I’m not sure what you thought you heard. Ken’s comments were about General – how much he loved his fans and the work he did. Ken also said General was his brother and hero. How pathetic you had to disrespect this sad occasion with such a negative and hurtful comment. I think it was pretty brave of Ken to do an interview when his best friend had just died. Do you have any idea how hard that was to do, while maintaining composure? The story is about honoring a true musical genius, legend and friend – General Johnson. Not about Danny or the other band members.

Susan

October 15th, 2010
9:39 am

To those making horrible comments about Kenny, take a lesson from the posts directed toward you here and hush. Kenny did not make anything about him any more than anyone else that spoke yesterday about how this man’s passing had affected them. And why shouldn’t he…General was like Kenny’s brother, best friend, hero and at times, father. He was the most important man in Kenny’s life…and yet he cared enough to get on the phone and take care of the fans who were hungry for news and for hearing directly from General’s “camp” to help aid in their grief. How well would you have handled that situation less than 24 hours after the event, especially one so unexpected? I have known them for years and to my ears, all I heard was the pure, raw pain of loss and devastation in Kenny’s voice. I’ve never heard him sound like that in all these years and I can’t even imagine what he’s feeling. He’s human like the rest of us and he’s hurting. As for Danny, I love Danny and I know that he’s also hurting, but everyone knew that the Surf was the place to go and I have no doubt that the invitation was extended to Danny as well. He could have talked just as easily as Kenny did. He chose not to. Best to take the why question to him, not beat Kenny up here for being human and doing his best.

peggy sullivan

October 15th, 2010
9:53 am

General, you’re alive and well in my heart, as I listen to Shero, and I want you to know you’re my Hero…………..

Sabrina

October 15th, 2010
10:06 am

I was so saddened to hear about the General. He was what beach music was all about! An amazing performer. I saw the last show the Chairman of the Board performed at the Pavilion at Myrtle Beach before the Pavilion closed. I also followed them when I was younger with my Best Friend Lisa Helms Hudson around Charlotte, Rock Hill and Myrtle Beach. What a great loss to the beach music community! The General will be forever in our hearts and soul!!!
Sabrina

Dennis K. Hardison

October 15th, 2010
11:06 am

Danny Woods called me ten-minutes after General passed away, and gave me the sad news about General’s death. I started as a rodey with Danny when I was fourteen … growing up in Detroit, and continued as an occasional rodey when The Chairmen of the Board was formed. All three of these gentlemen are the greatest guys you could ever want to meet or be around. It was always a treat to talk with General. General, Danny, Ken and I shared so many laughs over the years. Once in a restaurant in Raleigh, N.C., I thought we were going to get put out, because we talked and laughed so hard about the old days in Detroit. General’s knowledge about the music industry was massive!

I got my start with them as a rodey, and because of this opportunity; I have promoted some of the biggest names in show business. I will never forget the time General asked me to come to a meeting with him, Ken and Danny … that was the day I graduated from rodey to respected Music Promoter. General, you will be sadly missed by so many. I will always be grateful to General, Danny and Ken for giving me my start in the music industry … it took me out of those tough gangs in Detroit.

Dennis K. Hardison

Duane Goins

October 15th, 2010
12:07 pm

Kenny gave that interview very shortly after Generals`s death. Most people wouldn`t have their thoughts together on such short notice so give him crdit for trying to reach out to their fans. It was not a preparedd statement as in most cases. He couldn`t cover everything little thing even 2 weeks later.

I called Clarence Carter yesterday & told him slowly, & gave him time to reflect. We then talked about Solomon Burke passing last Sunday in an Amsterdam airport at 70. The we came back to General. He told me to get back to him w arrangements & said to tell everybody that he “would take care of ol Patches as long as I can”. I told him to take care, hung up & cried. We are losing these great people everyday it seems. We are truly a blesseed generation & should realize that. I`m sure there will be more about General`s passign & tributes & all. A Celebration of Life n& Love is what is needed here instead of a snipe fest .
Duane Goins Lake Norman

Sharon Campbell

October 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

Such as loss he and the group were great .But he was absolutely the basement of beach music starting with the Showman .all of their hits were because of his special voice .i apppreciate the gift he gave us all.If you ever had the chance to talk to him he was down to earth and very nice.We lost a very good man.

Angelia

October 15th, 2010
6:24 pm

The General was definitely the greatest legendary beach music performer ever!! I never went to a show that the area surrounding him & Chairmen wasn’t packed tight….I am saddened by this loss! I will always keep his memory alive!! I love you,General! I am sure we will meet again!

Craig

October 16th, 2010
12:11 am

Thank you General, Danny and Kenny for everything! I still have the photos from Tanglewood on my phone.

Mitzi Eaton McGraw

October 16th, 2010
9:23 am

It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t sing along with the Chairmen of the Board. From Lake Norman to North Myrtle Beach and more, I always sought them out. Besides being talented beyond belief, they were approachable and “real” to their fans. Some of the most wonderful times of my life have been “earmaked” by their music. It transcends generations. My daughters love them as much as I do. General Norman Johnson was talented beyond the recognition he received. His legend will live on. I am saddened by the comments that have been made by fans who are critical of Danny and Ken. You don’t turn on “family” and they were General’s brothers. This is not the time to be judging anyone. Would he want that? No, absolutely not. Let’s remember General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board for the exciting music they created and the good times. THAT is a tribute…NOT criticism. May comfort come to his wife and children and may the memories sustain them. Rest in peace, General…you will be missed.

Tazz Cole

October 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

Jason,

How dare you!!!! It is you that is turning the focus elsewhere, not Ken. By your false statement you are disrespecting General, you are disrespecting General’s best and most loyal friend of over 40 years, and most of all you are disrespecting his family in their time of grief. All of us were blessed enough to experience such a great talent, a legend in our lifetime but to his family (and I consider Ken to be a part of that family) he was a husband, a father, a grandfather, and yes, a best friend. They are all hurting deeply and you need to respect that and let them grieve in peace…..if you are any kind of man at all you owe this family, this friend, and even the fans an appology. Remember….when you are pointing the finger at Ken calling him a jerk there are 4 fingers pointing back at YOU!

Lisa

October 16th, 2010
9:48 pm

My friend and I used to go to Beach Blast in Charlotte every year and we pretty much went to see Chairmen of the Board everywhere they played. They were playing at the Ramada Inn in Hickory one night and some friends and I went to see them. One of my friends got a little tipsy-well a little more than tipsy and fell out of her chair. I just remember Danny Woods came flying off of the stage and picked her up and sat her back in the chair. It was so funny-we were of course young and stupid but they were our favorite beach band-we loved the General and the band. We will all miss him so much but the General and the band’s great music will live on in our hearts forever..