Eddie Lang and Lonnie Johnson - Bullfrog Moan Blues

Alfonzo "Lonnie" Johnson (February 8, 1899 – June 16, 1970), was a pioneering Blues and Jazz guitarist and banjoist. He started playing in cafes in New Orleans and in 1917 he traveled in Europe, playing in revues and briefly with Will Marion Cook's Southern Syncopated Orchestra. When he returned home to New Orleans in 1918 he discovered that his entire family had been killed by a flu epidemic except for one brother. He and his surviving brother, James "Steady Roll" Johnson moved to St. Louis in 1920 where Lonnie played with Charlie Creath's Jazz-O-Maniacs and with Fate Marable in their Mississippi riverboat bands. In 1925 Johnson married Blues singer Mary Johnson and won a Blues contest sponsored by the Okeh record company. Part of the prize was a recording deal with the company. Throughout the rest of the 1920s he recorded with a variety of bands and musicians, including Eddie Lang, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In the 1930s Johnson moved to Cleveland, Ohio and worked with the Putney Dandridge Orchestra, and then in a tire factory and steel mill. In 1937 he moved back to Chicago and played with Johnny Dodds, and Jimmie Noone. Johnson continued to play for the rest of his life, but was often forced to leave the music business for periods to make a living. In 1963 he once again appeared briefly with Duke Ellington.

Eddie Lang was the first Jazz guitar virtuoso. A boyhood friend of Joe Venuti, Lang took violin lessons for 11 years but switched to guitar before he turned professional in 1924 with the Mound City Blue Blowers. He was soon in great demand for recording dates, both in the jazz world and in pop settings. His sophisticated European sounding chord patterns made him a unique accompanist, but he was also a fine soloist. He often played with violinist Venuti and with Red Nichols's Five Pennies , Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke (most memorably on the song "Singin' the Blues"). He played in many orchestras including Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra , Jean Goldkette and with Paul Whiteman (appearing on one short number with Venuti in Whiteman's 1930 film "King Of Jazz"). Lang was a versatile player who could back Blues singers, play Classical music, and jam with the greatest musicians of his day. He was the house guitarist at Okeh from 1926 to 1933. Using the pseudonym of Blind Willie Dunn, Lang often teamed up with Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson. Eddie Lang led several dates of his own between 1927 and 1929, including an interesting session with King Oliver and Johnson, under the name of Blind Willie Dunn and his Gin Bottle Four. He worked regularly with Bing Crosby during the early 1930s and appears briefly with him in the film "The Big Broadcast". Tragically his premature death was caused by a poorly performed operation, where he lost too much blood during a routine tonsillectomy. Bing was deeply disturbed by Lang's death, not only because he suddenly lost one of his best friends and most talented sidemen, but because he had personally urged Lang to have the operation.

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