- Cape businessman known for starting NARS dies at 49 (2/23/17)9
- Apparent punch at girls basketball game propels lawmaker into action (2/21/17)4
- Business notebook: Owners ready to roll out the Barrel 131 (2/20/17)7
- Japanese restaurant up and running; owner surprised by fondness of sushi here (2/24/17)
- SoutheastHEALTH, Washington University School of Medicine announce collaboration (2/24/17)18
- Missouri bill would limit transgender school bathroom access (2/22/17)48
- MSHP: McLendon shot in side; autopsy refutes witness account (2/19/17)23
- Annual father-daughter dance provides some fun bonding time (2/19/17)1
- City issues precautionary boil order near Arena Park (2/23/17)
- $22M bond issue would alter Jackson schools (2/22/17)13
Musician Johnnie Johnson gets Congressional Gold Medal
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis jazz and blues pianist Johnnie Johnson has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill presented the award to Johnson's widow, Frances Johnson, in a ceremony Monday at the National Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis. The U.S. Congress gives out the award, which is one of the highest civilian honors in the nation, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Johnson was a member of the Montford Point Marines, an African-American unit that desegregated the previously all-white U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1941 to allow African-Americans to be recruited by the Marine Corps, though they still were not allowed to attend traditional boot camps. McCaskill co-sponsored legislation to award all Montford Point Marines who trained for duty at the segregated facility the Congressional Gold Medal.
He later started a musical career that pioneered St. Louis' blues scene in the 1950s, culminated with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
The Hall of Fame induction called Johnson "one of the unsung heroes of rock and roll," describing him as a towering but "humble" talent who heavily influenced musicians such as the Rolling Stones.
Johnson was a pianist for guitarist and fellow future Hall of Fame member Chuck Berry and was the inspiration for Berry's famous song "Johnnie B. Goode."
Johnson "didn't always get the recognition he deserved because he wasn't quite as showy as some of the musicians he hung out with, some of whom we know well here in St. Louis," McCaskill said, referring to Berry without naming him.
Johnson died in St. Louis in 2005 and is buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
"Music is a universal language, and no one spoke it better than Johnnie Johnson," McCaskill said.