The Buddy Johnson Orchestra was one of the most popular R&B based bands during the immediate post war years. Buddy was typical of many bandleaders of the time who often put entertainment ahead of art. By taking that route he enjoyed more hits than most of his contemporaries.
Woodrow Wilson Johnson was born in Darlington, South Carolina, on January of 1915. He took to music at an early age, becoming adept at the piano beginning at the age of five. As a teenager he was active in church and school groups arranging and producing musical presentations in the local community. By the time he was in his early twenties he headed for New York where he soon found work as a pianist with a traveling show called The Cotton Club Revue.
He soon put together a small band that played blues tunes and riff based jump and boogie dance numbers. In late 1939 he secured a recording contract with the oldest of the major labels, Decca Records. His very first recording was Jammin' In Georgia and Stop Pretending featuring Buddy on vocal accompanied by The Mack Sisters. A short time after Buddy began recording for Decca, his teenage sister Ella joined him in New York and recorded with the band, on the tune Please Mr. Johnson. Besides Ella Johnson, singer Etta Jones also was a vocalist with the band in 1943 and 1944. Johnson showed off his talent as a composer with two of his original tunes Troyon Swing and Southern Exposure. By the year 1941, Buddy had put together a tight nine piece band.