Pete Johnson — Death Ray Boogie and Dive Bomber Boogie

Thanks to Hisashi Toshima for the YouTube

Death Ray Boogie was written by Pete Johnson and Dave Deshers (?) and recorded  May 8, 1941. Pete Johnson was on piano with Al Hall, Bass; and A.G. Godley, Drums. Pete Johnson was originally from Kansas City, but he later became part of the South Chicago club scene. This was not then a lucrative musical genre. All or the important figures in this music had outside jobs. Jimmy Yancey, as noted before, was a groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox baseball team. Meade Lux Lewis drove Taxi Cab during the 1930’s. Pete Johnson washed cars for a funeral home. .

Although Boogie Woogie recording dates go back as far as 1924, we don’t really know how far back it really goes. My guess is that it’s origins were in locomotive train travel. Although there are a variety of bass patterns in this music, they each capture the feel of riding on or in an old time railroad car. Boogie Woogie remained a marginal music until John Hammond heard them and booked Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons to play trios in Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing Jazz Concert at Carnegie Hall, in 1938. Boogie Woogie became a fad after that concert and into the 1940’s.  Tommy Dorsey used Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons as an Intermission Act on tours and Radio performances.

Boogie Woogie was the foundation on which later Rhythm and Blues music and 1950’s Rock and Roll was built. Chuck Berry in particular used these rhythm patterns in his music.

Next, here is Dive Bomber Boogie Woogie, recorded in New York City, on Feb 17, 1944. K. Holden is listed as the composer:

Thanks to Jake BALDHEAD

Dive Bomber  Boogie Woogie with its war theme was recorded and released in the middle of World War II.

About Richard Rollo

I am a retired Community College Instructor. I taught Political Science 1 American Government for 22 years in Southern California. I am originally from Northern Minnesota. My earliest years were spent in the living quarters of a rural Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway Depot. Then my family joined the great 1950's migration to Southern California where I joined up with fellow baby boomers in overcrowded schools.
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