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Syl Johnson

voc, g, h, *1936 US, Holly Springs, Mississippi
Singer / Musician / Producer of Soul
A.k.a. Sylvester Thompson

b. 1st July 1936, Holly Springs, Mississippi, U.S.A. American funk/soul/blues singer and music producer. Johnson sang and played with blues artists Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 1950s, before recording with Jimmy Reed for Vee Jay Records in 1959. He made his solo debut that same year with Federal Records (2), a subsidiary of King Records (3) of Cincinnati, backed by Freddie King on guitar. He then began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago in the mid 1960s. Beginning with his first hit, Come On Sock It to Me in 1967, Johnson dominated the label as both a hitmaker and producer. Like other black songwriters of the period, several of his records at this time explored themes of African-American identity and social problems in songs including Is It Because I’m Black, which reached Number 11 in the R&B charts in 1969. In 1971, Willie Mitchell brought Johnson to Hi Records, for whom he recorded three albums and a number of singles. Produced in Memphis with the Hi house band, these yielded music of power and enduring value, including the hits We Did It, Back for a Taste of Your Love and Take Me to the River, his biggest success, reaching Number 7 on the R&B charts in 1975. However, at Hi Johnson was always to some extent in Al Green’s shadow commercially, if not artistically. After the Hi years ended, Johnson produced two LPs for his own label Shama, the latter of which (Ms. Fine Brown Frame, 1982) was picked up for distribution by Boardwalk Records, Inc. and produced Johnson’s last hit record, the title cut. Around the mid-eighies, Johnson started a fast-food fish restaurant business, and became semi-retired from performing, only making occasional appearances at blues club gigs. In 1992, Johnson found out that his classic song Different Strokes have been sampled by number of rappers including Wu-Tang Clan, MC Hammer, and Geto Boys. Stimulated by this fact, he decided to make a come back in the music business. In 1994, he released the album Back in the Game on Delmark Records. The album featured the the Hi rhythm section and his youngest daughter Syleena Johnson. Blues guitarist and singer Jimmy Johnson (8), and bassist Mack Thompson are his brothers.

  • Vocals
  • Guitar
  • Harmonica
  • Soul
  • Blues
  • Electronic
Popular Tracks   
Is It Because I'm Black on Is It Because I'm Black by Syl Johnson
Concrete Reservation on Is It Because I'm Black by Syl Johnson
Same Kind of Thing on Dresses Too Short by Syl Johnson
Let Yourself Go on Diamond in the Rough by Syl Johnson
I'm Talkin' 'Bout Freedom on Is It Because I'm Black by Syl Johnson
Back for a Taste of Your Love on Back for a Taste of Your Love by Syl Johnson
I Hate I Walked Away on Back for a Taste of Your Love by Syl Johnson
Different Strokes on Dresses Too Short by Syl Johnson
I Hear the Love Chimes on Diamond in the Rough by Syl Johnson
Could I Be Falling in Love on Diamond in the Rough by Syl Johnson

Track list and 30sec audio provided by


Title Artist Year Type
We Do It TogetherSyl Johnson2017Compil.
My GiftSyl Johnson2016Compil.
Complete Twinight Records 45sSyl Johnson, Sylvester Thompson2015Compil.
Different Strokes / My Uptown BeatSyl Johnson / Divine Force2013Single
Mississippi Main ManSyl Johnson2012Compil.
Syl Johnson Single BoxSyl Johnson2011Compil.
Complete MythologySyl Johnson2010Album
Everybody Needs Love / SeasideSyl Johnson / Kendra Morris2010Single
Do You Know What Soul Is?Syl Johnson2010Album
Is It Because I'm Black?Syl Johnson2005Compil.
Different Strokes 67-69Syl Johnson2005Compil.
All I Need Is Someone Like You / Do You Know What Love IsSyl Johnson2003Single
Different Strokes / Is It Because I'm BlackSyl Johnson2002Single
I Got The / Is It Because I'm Black ?Labi Siffre / Syl Johnson2001Album
Two Johnsons Are Better Than OneSyl Johnson & Jimmy Johnson2001Album
Scratchin / Different StrokesThe Magic Disco Machine / Syl Johnson2001Album
The Complete Syl Johnson On Hi RecordsSyl Johnson2000Compil.
Hands Of TimeSyl Johnson1999Album
Talkin' Bout Chicago!Syl Johnson1999Album
I Been Missin' You / Sexy WayzSyl Johnson1998Single
Back For A Taste - The Syl Johnson Story (1971-78)Syl Johnson1998Compil.
Sexy WayzSyl Johnson1998Single
The Hi Records MastersSyl Johnson1998Compil.
Bridge To LegacySyl Johnson1998Album
Dresses Too Short / Is It Because I'm BlackSyl Johnson1997Compil.
The Twilight & Twinight Masters CollectionSyl Johnson1996Compil.
The Best Of Syl Johnson The Hi Records YearsSyl Johnson1996Compil.
Little Sally Walker / I Resign From Your LoveSyl Johnson1995Single
This Time Together By Father And DaughterSyl Johnson & Syleena Johnson1995Album
Back For A Taste Of Your Love + Diamond In The RoughSyl Johnson1995Compil.
Back In the GameSyl Johnson1994Album
The A SidesSyl Johnson1994Compil.
Total Explosion & Uptown ShakedownSyl Johnson1993Compil.
Take Me To The RIver And Other Soul Music ClassicsSyl Johnson1992Compil.
Music To My EarsSyl Johnson1991Compil.
Chicago Twinight SoulSyl Johnson1990Compil.
Stuck In ChicagoSyl Johnson1989Compil.
Foxy BrownSyl Johnson1988Album
Is It Because I'm BlackSyl Johnson1986Compil.
The Love ChimesSyl Johnson1986Compil.
I Got Your Beef / John, Muddy, Bob & MarvinSyl Johnson1984Single
Suicide BluesSyl Johnson1983Album
SteppinSyl Johnson1983Single
Ms. Fine Brown FrameSyl Johnson1982Album
Ms. Fine Brown FrameSyl Johnson1982Album
Brings Out The Blues In Me / How You Need To Be LovedSyl Johnson1980Single
Brings Out The Blues In MeSyl Johnson1980Album
Otis Redding Medley / Mystery LadySyl Johnson1979Album
Mystery Lady / Let's Dance For LoveSyl Johnson1979Single
Goodie Goodie Good TimesSyl Johnson1979Compil.
Uptown ShakedownSyl Johnson1979Album
Stand By Me / Main SqueezeSyl Johnson1978Single
Fonk You / That WiggleSyl Johnson1977Single
Can't Nobody Stop Me Now / Let Me Love YouSyl Johnson1977Single
I Only Have LoveSyl Johnson1975Single
Total ExplosionSyl Johnson1975Album
Star Bright, Star Lite / That's Just My LuckSyl Johnson1975Single
Take Me To The River / Could I Be Falling In LoveSyl Johnson1975Single
Bout To Make Me Leave Home / It Ain't EasySyl Johnson1975Single
Total ExplosionSyl Johnson, Mastercraft1975Album
I'm YoursSyl Johnson1974Single
Let Yourself Go / Please Don't Give Up On MeSyl Johnson1974Single
All About The Memphis SoulSyl Johnson, Al Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay1974Compil.
I Want To Take You Home (To See Mama) / I Hear The Love ChimesSyl Johnson1974Single
Diamond In The RoughSyl Johnson, Mastercraft1974Album
Back For A Taste Of Your Love / Wind, Blow Her Back My WaySyl Johnson1973Single
Back For A Taste Of Your LoveSyl Johnson1973Album
We Did It / Any Way The Wind BlowsSyl Johnson1972Single
I Wanna Satisfy Your Every NeedSyl Johnson1972Single
Get Ready / Same Kind Of ThingSyl Johnson1971Single
The Love You Left Behind / Anyone But YouSyl Johnson, Mastercraft1971Single
We Do It Together / Thank You BabySyl Johnson1971Single
That's Why / Everybody Needs LoveSyl Johnson1971Single
Annie Got Hot Pants PowerSyl Johnson1971Single
Concrete Reservation / Together, ForeverSyl Johnson & Pieces Of Peace1970Single
One Way Ticket To NowhereSyl Johnson1970Single
Is It Because I'm BlackSyl Johnson1970Album
Going To The Shack / Don't Give It AwaySyl Johnson1969Single
I Feel An Urge / Try MeSyl Johnson1968Single
Dresses Too Short / I Can Take Care Of BusinessSyl Johnson1968Single
Take Me Back / I Take Care Of HomeworkSyl Johnson1968Single
Is It Because I'm Black / Let Them Hang HighSyl Johnson1968Single
Dresses Too ShortSyl Johnson1968Album
Send Me Some Lovin' / I ResignSyl Johnson1968Single
Ode To Soul Man / I'll Take Those Skinny LegsSyl Johnson1967Single
Come On Sock It To Me / Try MeSyl Johnson1967Single
Sorry Bout Dat / Different StrokesSyl Johnson1967Single
She's All Right / I KnowSyl Johnson1966Single
Falling In Love Again / I've Got To Get OverSyl Johnson1965Single
Do You Know What Love IsSyl Johnson1965Single
Please, Please, Please / I'm Looking For My BabySyl Johnson1962Single
I Wanna Know / Well Oh WellSyl Johnson1962Single
Little Sally Walker / I Resign From Your LoveSyl Johnson1962Single
I've Got To Find My Baby/(She's So Fine) I Just Gotta Make Her MineSyl Johnson1961Single
I've Got Love / Lonely ManSyl Johnson1960Single
Teardrops / They Who LoveSyl Johnson1959Single
Straight Love No ChaserSyl JohnsonSingle
I Can Take Care Of BusinessSyl JohnsonSingle
I've Got To Get Over / Hey, Little GirlSyl JohnsonSingle
Come On Sock It To Me / I'm Still HereSyl Johnson / The NotationsSingle
Try Me / SurroundedSyl JohnsonSingle
Half Of Love / Lovin' On The RunSyl JohnsonSingle
Do You Know What Love Is / Things Ain't RightSyl JohnsonSingle
Goodie-Goodie-Good-Times / Love BabySyl JohnsonSingle
My Funky Funky BandSyl JohnsonAlbum
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