Lois Johnson (1942-2014) started out as a solo artist, but is best known for being Hank Williams, Jr.'s orbit for a few years. She toured with Williams from 1970-73 and recorded two albums with him, working alongside her husband, songwriter Joe Don Silvers, who was also in the Williams road show. Johnson recorded a few solo records as well, as well as an album's worth of singles in the '60s that still have yet to be reissued. Here's a quick look at her work...
Lois Johnson & Hank Williams, Jr. "Removing The Shadow" (MGM, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Vienneau)
Although she started recording singles as far back as 1965 (with Billy Sherrill, no less!) Johnson's earliest albums were in a duo with the pre-outlaw Hank, Jr. They had a couple of moderate hits, including the title track and a sweet cover of the Everly Brothers oldie, "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)," which was the duo's highest charting single. Johnson hasn't yet developed a distinctive style -- she's basically singing in a Loretta Lynn mode -- but she sounds nice, and brings out good, down-to-earth performances by Williams, and they split the songs up pretty evenly, without her getting overshadowed by the more established star. This is a pretty good record -- nothing dazzling or original, but it's a good listen. And of course, it being a Hank, Jr. album, there are several Hank Williams covers, including a lively "Why Don't You Love Me," as well as "Settin' The Woods On Fire," and others, and a drippy cover of "If I Were A Carpenter," which I guess was a nod at Johnny & June. Hank Jr. gets songwriter credit on the title track, "Removing The Shadow" and there are two original songs by a guy called Kent Westberry, "Party People" and "What We Used To Hang On To (Is Gone)," which are the most distinctive material on here. All in all, an album worth checking out, if you don't set your expectations too high.
Lois Johnson & Hank Williams, Jr. "Send Me Some Lovin' " (MGM, 1972) (LP)
Lois Johnson "Lois Johnson" (20th Century Fox, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Vienneau)
A nice, reasonably rootsy album with echoes of Loretta Lynn's rootsiness and Donna Fargo's pop flair. After all the duet work, it's nice to hear Johnson on her own -- her voice is strong and husky, and the musical backing is pretty decent. She still seems to be in Hank, Jr.'s orbit -- same producer, and she's singing four songs written by Don Silvers, who worked for Williams' publishing company and was also in his road show. But she's clearly in the spotlight this time around, and sounds great. Johnson scored her biggest hit with the Silvers song, "Loving You Will Never Get Old," which hit #6 on the charts, and one wonders why her career didn't take off after this. The only problem I have with this record is that all the songs are what I call "emotional doormat" material, one tune after another about passive, sexually available women who forgive everything and are always there with an open door. It's typical Nashville "girl" material (though in this case, a few years out of date) but a little variety might have helped.
Lois Johnson "Loveshine" (EMH, 1984) (LP)
Lois Johnson & Don Silvers "Country Favorites" (LMC, 1981) (LP)
Lois Johnson "Dreamcatcher" (Edrick, 1999) (LP)
Hick Music Index