Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Chairman of the Board Member General Johnson Dies at 69


Just a day after celebrating Sam Moore‘s 75th birthday, and a few days after the passing of Solomon Burke, General Johnson has died.

He was the writer and often lead singer for a group called Chairmen of the Board. Their hits included “Pay to the Piper,” “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Finders Keepers,” and “You’ve Got Me Dangling on a String.”

Chairmen of the Board was really supposed to be what the Temptations were to Motown for Invictus Records circa 1970. That was the label started by legendary Motown/Four Tops writers Holland, Dozier, Holland after they split from Motown. Johnson wrote hits for other Invictus acts, notably “Bring the Boys Home” and a trio of hits for the Honey Cone: “Want Ads,” “Stick Up (Highway Robbery),” and the essential–my favorite– “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show.”  He also had a hit on “Patches” for singer Clarence Carter.

Johnson came from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he and the band were into what they called Beach Music. HDH lured them to Detroit, where they had their big success with those singles. Here’s what Johnson says on his website:

“In 1968, 1 moved to Detroit, Michigan to further my career with Invictus Records. As a member of The Chairmen of the Board, I experienced and enjoyed international success as a songwriter and an artist. My success in such a short period of time magnified the business dealings with my recording and management companies. Soon, business disagreements deteriorated our musical relationship and eventually terminated our successful venture. In 1974, 1 left Invictus.”

His singing was a little like that of my old favorite Billy Stewart. He used kind of a stutter and a staccato phrasing to make the songs stand out. It worked. Thanks, General, for leaving those little masterpieces behind.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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