This rare mint copy of the first (78rpm) album by the great blues singer and guitarist Lonnie Johnson. It was recorded by Moses Asch of Folkways Records, who recorded so much great music for his highly original little labels. Incidentaly, the music writers in the media, the web and Wikipedia constantly refer to Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and the like as have been recorded or worse yet “taped” by “Smithsonian Folkways.” Actually, the Smithsonian had no part in recording these treasures, it was mostly Moe Asch for his own Folkways, Asch and Disc labels. He was an American original and contrary to what music writers may state, and much of it was not “taped,” but recorded directly to disc like it had always been done before the invention and adoption of the tape recorder in the 50s.
The cover is by the legendary David Stone Martin and is one of his rarest. Lonnie Johnson started his blues career in the glory days of the 1920s and had chops enough to play with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and a few famous duets with the first jazz guitar virtuoso, Eddie Lang. He became an R & B star in the late 40s and 50s and a blues “rediscovery” on LP in the 60s.
Jazz autographs from this early are fairly scarce compared to those of other musicians and entertainers, but are nowhere near as rare as those of blues and for that matter, gospel artists, like this one and the Sister Rosetta Tharpe above.
This is the only 1940s autograph of Lonnie we’ve ever seen, but there are probably a few ball point pen signatures out there somewhere acquired during the blues revival of the sixties, which cool as they are, aren’t as radical as this one.