Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Tale of Two Lonnie Johnsons

Have you ever heard about Lonnie Johnson? Well for those of you who have the Black Scientists & Inventors Book 6 the answer most likely is yes as Mr Johnson is one of the featured personalities in the book. Now before those of you who have not got the book yet and try to search for him on the internet, please be careful, that is, make sure your search results give you the Lonnie Johnson that you are looking for. I like many others made the mistake of reading about another Johnson but it was serendipity that I found the other one who is a equally famous for his life works. Below is a small piece about these two great pioneers and inventors.

Alonzo Lonnie Johnson
Alonzo Lonnie Johnson was born 1899 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was a blues and jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter. He was a pioneer of jazz guitar and jazz violin and is recognized as the first to play an electrically amplified violin. Johnson recalls  that "...there was music all around us and in my family you'd better play something, even if you just banged on a tin can."

Much of Johnson's music featured experimental improvisations that would now be categorised as jazz rather than blues. According to the blues historian GĂ©rard Herzhaft, Johnson was "undeniably the creator of the guitar solo played note by note with a pick, which has become the standard in jazz, blues, country, and rock". Johnson's style reached both the Delta bluesmen and urban players who would adapt and develop his one-string solos into the modern electric blues style. However, the writer Elijah Wald declared that in the 1920s and 1930s Johnson was best known as a sophisticated and urbane singer rather than an instrumentalist: "Of the forty ads for his records that appeared in the Chicago Defender between 1926 and 1931, not one even mentioned that he played guitar."

He also recorded with a group called the Chocolate Dandies (in this case, McKinney's Cotton Pickers). He pioneered the guitar solo on the 1927 track "6/88 Glide", and on many of his early recordings he played 12-string guitar solos in a style that influenced such future jazz guitarists as Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt and gave the instrument new meaning as a jazz voice.

Alonzo Lonnie Johnson died in June, 1970.

Lonnie George Johnson
Lonnie George Johnson was born in 1949 in Mobile, Alabama. As a child he was inspired by the story’s of George Washington Carver (who incidentally can be found in Black Scientists and Inventors Book 2)  the great African scientist and inventor from America. Johnson excelled in science and chose to attend college at Tuskegee University on a math scholarship. When he finished, he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University.

Whilst doing work with the U.S. Air Force, he still had time for his hobbies. This is when he first thought of the Super Soaker. On October 14, 1983 he applied for a U.S. patent. On May 27, 1986 he received patent number 4,591,071. Initially it was called the “Power Drencher” when it appeared in toy shops in 1990, but after some tweaks and re-marketing, it got its official name. The Super Soaker topped out at $200 million in annual sales in 1991.

The royalties which Johnson receives from his Super Soaker invention he uses to build a state of the art science research and development laboratory where he continues to invent to this day.  He holds more than 80 patents.

Johnson's Super Soaker water gun, which has ranked among the world's top 20 best-selling toys every year since its release. Read more about this great inventor in the “Black Scientists & Inventors Book 6.”

Main Source of text: .wikipedia. 

Now let's finish with some great music from Lonnie Johnson the musician. Click here: