Johnson, Pete(r) [Holden, Kermit ]
- Marcello Piras
[Holden, Kermit ]
(b Kansas City, MO, March 25, 1904; d Buffalo, Mar 23, 1967). American pianist, singer, and composer. Born into a poor family, he dropped out of school and played drums for some years before studying piano with his uncle, Charles “Smash” Johnson, from 1922 to 1926. He worked in town with small bands and singers, notably Joe Turner. In 1936 the producer John Hammond persuaded him and Turner to move to New York. Together with the pianists Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, they performed at the Carnegie Hall concert entitled From Spirituals to Swing (1938), which launched boogie woogie as a public craze. Shortly thereafter these pianists were in great demand, and they recorded copiously, alone and together, for years. “Roll ’em Pete” (1938, Voc.), by Johnson and Turner, is considered a progenitor of rock and roll. In 1950 Johnson moved to Buffalo and turned to extra-musical jobs, with rare exceptions. In ...