Plas Johnson

Plas Johnson - saxophone

Jazz aficionados know him by name, but almost anyone exposed to music is familiar with his playing. His is the purring sax solo on Henry Mancini's famous “Pink Panther” movie theme song. His is the saxophone counterpart to Harry “Sweets” Edison's trumpet on Neal Hefti's signature music for “The Odd Couple” TV series.

Plas is the featured soloist heard on countless albums, including those of such artists as Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt and Sarah Vaughan.

Plas was born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, about sixty miles north of New Orleans. As teens, Plas and brother Ray formed a band, the Johnson Brothers Combo, that played in and around New Orleans for a number of years. Plas left New Orleans in 1951 to go on the road with the Chartes Brown Blues Band. The road, a stint in the Army and a permanent move to California followed. Plas attended the Westlake School of Music in Los Angeles for a year and a half, when his studies were derailed by an overloaded schedule of record dates. He was brought to the attention of Johnny Otis, who immediately added him to his blues aggregation. Johnny then introduced Plas to Dave Cavanaugh, who held an influential A&R position at Capitol Records, where he soon became a regular session sideman and soloist during Capitol's halcyon years.

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