T.J Johnson (p, voc) Al Nicholls (ts) Jay Darwish (b) Wesley Gibbens (d) Tony Pitt (g, bjo)
TJ is widely considered to be one of the UK’s best jazz and blues singers. Backed by his group of top British musicians TJ plays an extraordinary mix of music that transcends the boundaries of jazz, Blues country and gospel and is influenced by the likes of Ray Charles, Dr John, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, BB King, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra Jimmy Witherspoon, and many others.
TJ (Tim) Johnson was born in Cheltenham in 1969, but he spent most of his life in the North, in the East Cheshire/Manchester area. He listened to his parent’s jazz and country records as a child and then had guitar lessons with two folk musicians from the age of nine. “We didn’t learn by reading, but by learning the chords and the words and then singing them altogether. That’s how I learned my sense of time – you soon knew if you were out of time in that company’.
He played his first semi-pro gigs at the age of thirteen and by sixteen was playing in several, mostly amateur, bands. In one the drummer was a professional – Pete Cotterill, drummer in Max Collie’s Rhythm Aces. Max Invited Tim to London for an audition renamed him TJ (‘more jazzy’) and offered him a job.
Several years of hard-grafting and hard drinking giggins around Europe with the Collie band followed, but TJ then returned to the North, living in Marple (Cheshire) with his first wife and running a band which was soon very busy. In 2000 he moved to London, moved into Jonny Boston’s flat and was soon running bands again – including his New Orleans style Bourbon Kick, with which he played drums. In the past few years he has concentrated on his piano playing and singing.