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Pete Johnson

Pete Johnson

I WAS 14 in 1954 when my family moved from Texas to Massachusetts, where I discovered Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg and Joe Smith, disc jockeys who mixed doo wop with rock & roll and street-level rhythm & blues. I began collecting singles in pursuit of their mysteries.

I was a white kid going to a mostly-white high school. We didn't have a TV set and singles came in generic jackets, so I was surprised to learn that most of the artists I liked were Black.

One of the first rock & roll albums I bought was Here's Little Richard, yellow-orange and cover, Richard full face, mid-scream. That album still thrills me and I credit it with teaching me how to hear music. Richard himself was high voltage, but his New Orleans band cooked like a thousand watts.

We moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Radio was less alluring, though there were glimmers like Art Laboe, Hunter Hancock and Huggy Boy. I went to college, majored in English Lit. Saw Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Fats Domino, Ike & Tina Turner in local Black clubs.

Started at the Los Angeles Times as a copyboy. After a time I graduated to reporter trainee working the police beat and City Room. My father, a journalist, suggested that I introduce myself to the Entertainment Editor. The editor assigned me a music review. I didn't know how to write a review and my first was clumsy, but it was published. A month later he sent me on me another and this time I found my balance.

That was in 1965. Soon the editor hired me as a reviewer and assistant editor. I wrote a million reviews and 500,000 interviews during the next several years. In 1968 KHJ contracted me to write "The History of Rock & Roll." The Times kept me on payroll but when the show aired in 1969 I was burned out. A few months later I left the Times for Warner Bros. Records.

I had a variety of jobs at WBR for 17 years, then bounced around, then went to Apple in 1992. I was there about 11 years, mostly writing, editing, managing writers and coding websites.

Now I'm retired, living in San Jose, California, listening to music, reading novels, walking our greyhounds and playing on the computer.

43 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by date

The Rising Sons: Rising Sons Sing Blue Tunes

Profile by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 18 March 1966

THEY RADIATE a complete spectrum of Pop haberdashery — odd vests, coats of varying cuts, one or two neckties, assorted shirts and a miscellany of ...

Roger Miller: A Punny Man

Profile and Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 2 July 1966

"A WOMAN'S place is in the stove," Roger Miller drawled over the babble of four housewives sitting behind him in a plush Encino restaurant. ...

Clifton Chenier, Bob Dylan, Bert Kaempfert: Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (Columbia C2L 41 028 841)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 3 July 1966

Playboy Hops on Dylan Bandwagon ...

Vikki Carr, Aretha Franklin, Gale Garnett, The Mothers Of Invention, The Rolling Stones: Albums by the Mothers of Invention, Rolling Stones et al

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 July 1966

POPULAR RECORDS: PASS ASPIRIN, PLEASE ...

The Beatles: Revolver (Capitol ST-2576/T-2576)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 7 August 1966

New Beatles Album Best Yet ...

The Beatles, Donovan, The Happenings, Bobby Hebb, The Kinks, The Lovin' Spoonful, Billy Stewart: Summertime Songs on the Heat Parade

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 28 August 1966

THIS SUMMER may rank along with most Christmases for the number of seasonal records it has produced — every radio station's hit list is loaded ...

James Brown: Brown Arrives in His Own Style

Report and Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 15 September 1966

JAMES BROWN, who will appear at the Hollywood Bowl for a concert Friday night, has built up a 10-year momentum which catapulted him out of ...

Ramsey Lewis, The Monkees: The Monkees: The Monkees (Colpix COM/S-101); Ramsey Lewis: Wade in the Water (Cadet LP/S-774),Swingin' (Cadet LP/S-771)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 25 September 1966

Monkees Ape Their Betters ...

Simon & Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (Columbia CS-9363, CL 2563)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 20 November 1966

S and G Sing of Sly Sociology ...

The Doors: Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 18 May 1967

Doors Rattle Hinges at Whisky a Go Go ...

The Impressions: Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 1967

Impressions Win a Warm Welcome ...

The Four Seasons, Jimi Hendrix, Sam & Dave: The Four Seasons: Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica; Sam & Dave, the Jimi Hendrix Experience: Whisky A Go Go, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 4 July 1967

Two Pop Groups in Los Angeles Debuts ...

Paul Revere & The Raiders: Revere's Raiders Attack the Treasury

Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 9 July 1967

YOU CAN'T identify Paul Revere and the Raiders without a program and to get a program you have to buy it from Paul Revere, the ...

James Brown: the Royal Tahitian, Ontario CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 1967

JAMES BROWN has sustained 12 years of rock solid solid rock popularity, carving his career scream by scream, frantic performance after frantic performance, building a ...

The Animals, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Captain Beefheart, Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry: Albums from Bobbie Gentry, Aretha Franklin, Big Brother, Captain Beefheart and the Animals

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 September 1967

New Album From Bobbie Gentry ...

Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes: A&M Records Tooting Its Own Horn

Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 29 September 1967

ON A 2.3-ACRE lot near the corner of La Brea and Sunset in Hollywood sits one of the most successful record companies in the country, ...

Jefferson Airplane: After Bathing at Baxter's (RCA)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 27 November 1967

Airplane Album to Be Released Friday ...

The Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request (London)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 3 December 1967

Can't Tell an Album by Its Cover ...

The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield: The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol); Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 December 1967

Beatles Back With Another LP ...

The Beach Boys, Van Dyke Parks: Van Dyke Parks: Pop Music's Pilot Through the Aesthetic Shoals

Profile and Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 10 December 1967

WHAT FOLLOWS is an exorbitant number of words about and from an insignificant recording artist named Van Dyke Parks. He is insignificant at the moment, ...

The Chambers Brothers, Otis Redding, The Who: Albums from the Who, Otis Redding and the Chambers Brothers

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 17 December 1967

Biggest Happening in Album Covers ...

Taj Mahal: Taj Mahal (Columbia)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 4 February 1968

TAJ MAHAL, a talented blues singer who has kicked around Los Angeles for several years as a soloist and a member of the now-dead Rising ...

Love, Harry Nilsson: Love: Forever Changes (Elektra); Nilsson: 'One' (RCA); History of Rhythm and Blues (Atlantic, four volumes)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 25 February 1968

Love's Third Album Out on Elektra ...

Jefferson Airplane: Up, Up and Away With the Jefferson Airplane

Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 25 February 1968

How old are the people in the group? Grace: Oldest group in the country. Spencer: Between 25 and 30. Manager: Between 23 ...

Blue Cheer, Aretha Franklin: Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (Atlantic); Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (Philips)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 3 March 1968

Aretha Just Keeps Rolling Along ...

Dr. John, Tiny Tim: Albums from Tiny Tim and Dr. John

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 17 March 1968

Bless You, Tiny Tim ...

Solomon Burke, Laura Nyro: Laura Nyro: Eli and the 13th Confession (Columbia)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 7 April 1968

Laura Nyro Makes a Change ...

The Byrds, Penny Nichols: Troubadour, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 27 April 1968

'New' Byrds Make Bow at Troubadour ...

Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat, Country Joe & The Fish: Buffalo Springfield, Country Joe & the Fish, Canned Heat, the Hook, Smokestack Lightning: Long Beach Arena, Long Beach CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 7 May 1968

Springfield Plays Farewell Concert ...

The Nazz, Red Beans & Rice (US): The Nazz, Red Beans & Rice: Whisky a Go Go, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 1968

Two Rock Groups at Whisky a Go Go ...

Cream: Wheels of Fire (Atco SD 2-700)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 23 June 1968

Cream Rises to Top ...

The Doors: Waiting for the Sun (Elektra EKS- 74024)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 28 July 1968

The Doors Find Love ...

The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Vanilla Fudge: A Band by Any Other Name...

Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 11 August 1968

SEVERAL WEEKS ago I reviewed an outstanding album titled Music From Big Pink (Capitol SKAO 2955) and identified the group playing as the Band, formerly ...

Big Brother & The Holding Company, Janis Joplin: Big Brother & the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills (Columbia KCS 9700)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 18 August 1968

Big Brother Album Out ...

Kaleidoscope, Seatrain: the Ash Grove, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 13 September 1968

THE KALEIDOSCOPE is possibly the most underrated rock group in the country, a local group which has been playing for two years waiting for audiences ...

Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young: Neil Young Charts His Own Course

Interview by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 28 October 1968

"MAYBE SOME group will come along and be big, you know, but who cares," Neil Young says in his slow country way. "It's just happened ...

Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (SD 8214)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 2 February 1969

Down Dusty Music Road to Memphis ...

Crazy Horse, Neil Young: Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Troubadour, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 13 March 1969

Neil Young Featured in Show at Troubadour ...

Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys, Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix, Cat Mother, Chicago: Inglewood Forum Inglewood CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 29 April 1969

THE JIMI Hendrix Experience was an unpleasant one at the Forum in Inglewood Saturday night. ...

Joe Cocker: With a Little Help From My Friends (A&M SP 4182)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 1969

Singer Has Help From Ray Charles ...

Wild Man Fischer: An Evening With Wild Man Fischer (Bizarre 6332)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 1969

A RATHER unusual album froze me between my loudspeakers one late night last week and, though I am not sure it is entertainment and would ...

Bettye Swann, The Temptations: Bettye Swann: The Soul View Now! (Capitol ST 190); The Temptations: Cloud Nine (Gordy GS 939)

Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 1969

Bettye Swann's "Soul" ...

Brewer and Shipley, Laura Nyro: Laura Nyro, Brewer & Shipley: the Troubadour, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Pete Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 1969

LAURA NYRO reminded me that she is my favorite female singer Thursday night at the Troubadour, where she will appear through Sunday for two reserved-seat ...

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