Legendary composer, arranger, vocalist and lead singer of the Unifics, our musical director and wonderful friend Al Johnson got his wings this morning. Gonna play you proud, Al. – avec Al Johnson.
Al Johnson (musician)
Alfred Orlando Johnson is an American R&B singer, writer, arranger and producer.
Born in Newport News, Virginia in 1948, Johnson attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and while there, co-founded the soul group, The Unifics. The group, with Johnson as lead singer, scored three hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 and 1969 for the Kapp label. The first, “Court Of Love” climbed to #25, but reached #3 on the R&B chart. The follow-up, “The Beginning Of The End” got to #36 on the Hot 100 and #9 R&B. Two further releases in 1969 reached the R&B chart.
Johnson returned to recording in 1978 with a solo album, “Peaceful” which he co-produced, as well as arranging and co-writing, for a small label, Marina, part-owned by former singer, Lloyd Price.
In 1980, Johnson collaborated with jazz/soul producer Norman Connors, for an album, Back for More, on Columbia Records. This came after he had sung on Norman Connors’ album, “Invitation” for Arista in 1979, singing the lead track, “Your Love”.
“Back For More” peaked at #48 on the Billboard Black Albums chart. The lead single from the album, “I’m Back for More”, a duet with Jean Carn,  reached #26 on the R&B chart, whilst the follow-up, “I’ve Got My Second Wind”, hit #58, both in 1980.
Around this time, Johnson was writing, arranging and also playing keyboards on recording sessions, including for the Willie Lester-Rodney Brown production team that released several successful disco/soul albums on Prelude in the early 80s, with acts like Sharon Redd, Bobby Thurston and Gayle Adams.
In the 90s, he worked with leading soul group, “The Whispers” on several albums and in 1999, released another solo album for an independent label, Clout. Johnson has since re-formed the Unifics with original group member, Tom Fauntleroy and has also been touring with a solo gospel show. The group issued a new album, “Unifics Return” in 2005. Al Johnson passed away on October 26, 2013.
- Peaceful (Marina Records, 1978)
- Back for More (Columbia Records, 1980)
- My Heart Is an Open Book (Clout Records, 1999)