Johnnie Johnson, 2001 Inductee Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
As production of JOHNNIE BE GOOD winds down, I’m still looking at ways to make the film great. I spent my Christmas vacation rewriting the opening minutes of JOHNNIE BE GOOD and editor Tony Chambers is hard at work with the changes I asked him to make. The goal is to make the film as good as it can be and start submitting to film festivals later this year. No one wants to cross the finish line more than I do, but in the case of a music documentary that contains a lot of copyrighted material, it’s a tremendous challenge from a legal standpoint. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s one of the things we’re working on.
JOHNNIE BE GOOD examines the musical relationship between two rock and roll architects, Johnnie Johnson and the guitarist he hired in 1952, Chuck Berry. Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones appears in the film and this is what he said about JOHNNIE BE GOOD after watching a prior edit: “…congrats on the piece…just awesome and a fab job. I think you have been very fair in the ‘controversy’ of Johnnie/Chuck Berry….and I think that is really important. While there is obviously some thought that Johnnie should have received some royalties for his contributions, it is important to have that balance of pointing out the incredible influence and genius of Chuck. I just wanted to give you my initial thoughts and accolades for doing such a fantastic job.”
In 2005 when Johnnie Johnson died, David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine wrote that Johnson “…went on to become the greastest sideman in rock and roll, at the very moment the music was being born.” Should Johnson also be recognized as a partner in one of rock and roll’s great song-writing teams? Not even a lawsuit settled the debate.
Art Holliday Director/Writer/Producer