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Willie Johnson

Renowned for his so-called “dum chuck” design wedding components of jazz and Traditional western swing with the original folk of his indigenous Shetland, “Peerie” Willie Johnson was the most influential Scottish folk guitarist of his generation. Delivered Dec 10, 1920, on remote control Yell, the Shetlands’ second-largest isle, Johnson gained the lifelong nickname “Peerie” due to his diminutive stature, the consequence of a childhood suffering from disease. Housebound for a few months at the same time, he created an enduring passion for the American jazz and nation music broadcast via the family’s shortwave radio, ultimately teaching himself electric guitar on the second-hand ukulele. Cousin John Leach crafted Johnson’s initial guitar, with 16 he produced his professional debut with regional favorites the Islesburgh Dance Music group, led by Shetland fiddling large Dr. Tom Anderson. Channeling the affects of Eddie Lang and Django Reinhardt, Johnson steadily transformed his function in the lineup from rhythmic accompaniment to highlighted instrumentalist, forging one guitar sound recognized by its loping basslines. In 1938, he and Anderson co-founded the brand new Players Dance Music group with pianist Billy Kaye, even though the group was compelled to split 2 yrs afterwards when Johnson was known as to serve in the RAF. During Globe Battle II he was stationed at Sullom Voe, frequently jamming using the base’s citizen dance combo and befriending several British jazz music artists. After the battle, Johnson relocated to London and became a fixture of the neighborhood golf club circuit, but his failure to learn music limited his potential customers and he came back towards the Shetlands in 1953. After settling in the islands’ capital of Lerwick, Johnson resumed his cooperation with Anderson. From 1958, he also released a collaboration with fiddler Willie Hunter, that 12 months planing a trip to London to try out the Royal Event Hall aswell as record an unreleased recording for the BBC at Abbey Street Studios. Johnson by no means released an effective LP in his life time, but nevertheless shows up on some anthologies including 1963’s Scottish Violin Music and 1978’s Shetland Folk Fiddling, Vol. 2. Furthermore, he and Hunter had been an annual high light from the Edinburgh Celebration between 1973 and 1980. After Shetland fiddler Aly Bain was called host from the Route 4 series Down House in 1988, Johnson produced regular guest performances in the years to check out. He and Hunter had been also a reliable existence on Norwegian tv and radio. In 2005, the Shetland Arts Trust celebrated Johnson’s legacy using the inauguration from the “Peerie Willie Acoustic guitar Event.” He passed away in the home in Lerwick on, may 22, 2007.

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