Posts Tagged ‘Musical Career’

Brunswick Records Soul Legend Johnnie Gee Celebrating His 50th Birthday With Peace & Love From The Soul

Saturday, December 12th, 2009
The Miltown Source Magazine asked:




Soul Legend Johnnie Gee

Singer, Songwriter. Johnnie Gee was born September 29, 1958, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to an African-American working-class family. He was the 3rd of seven children. (Sisters: Jean “Jackie”, Ida and “Juanita”, (Brothers: Dewitt, and Jerome. Johnnie began his musical career at the age of 6 as the drummer and later became the lead singer of the Step By Step band who formed in 1969.  .

His father, D.W Gee, served the in U.S Army and fought in Korean War. As a Journeyman Steamfitter D.W Gee was one of the first black welders to work for Wisconsin Electric Company. Being a kid at heart and a playful child at age 9, Johnnie Gee was struck by a car while trying to cross the streets close to his home, after finding out the person who hit him was a jeweler, Johnnie Gee asked his parents to buy him Drums and other musical equipment with his share of the settlement he received.  Believing his sons had talent, Mr. Gee molded them into a musical group in the Mid 70s. The Gee Family performers consisted of Lil Johnnie Gee, Dewitt, Jerome, and a few neighborhood friends who joined the band, In these early years the Step By Step Band consisted of 12 members, Johnnie Gee, Jerome Gee, Dewitt Gee, Ronald Purfoy, Greg McDonald, Greg Emmerson, Delaney Henderson, Michael Brown, Lee Hicks, Steve Barry, Jeff McCledon, Chester LeBron, and Raymond Jones.  Johnnie Gee started out on Drums and later emerged as the group’s lead vocalist. He showed remarkable range and depth for such a young performer, impressing audiences with his ability to convey complex emotions with a perfect vocal pitch.

In 1972 after many rehearsals and tightening up their musical skills Johnnie Gee decided to name the group “The Exclusive Step By Step Band”, behind the scenes, Mr. Gee pushed his sons to succeed, Johnnie and his brothers spent endless hours rehearsing and polishing up their act. At first, “Step By Step” band played local gigs and built a strong following. They recorded one single on their own; “Time After Time” with the b-side “She’s Gone,” both songs generated a lot of interest around the country and played on popular radio stations.

The Step By Step band moved on to working an opening act for such R&B artists as Ray Goodman & Brown, The Stylistics, The Chi-lites, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Blue Magic, The Bloodstones, James Brown, and Sam and Dave. Many of these performers were signed to the legendary Brunswick, Platinum and other major record labels back in the 70’s, and it has been reported that Tim Butler may have been the one to tell Brunswick Records founder Nat Tarnopol about the Step By Step Band. Impressed by the group, Tarnopol signed them to his label in 1975.

Traveling back and forth to Chicago, IL, Johnnie and his brothers started work on their music and dancing with their mother (Elgie Gee) and father as their managers. In August 1975, the Step By Step Band was introduced to the music industry at a special event, and later served as the opening act for the Moments. Their first album, I Always Wanted to Be in the Band, hit the charts in December of that year. It’s first single; “Cash Money” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1976.

For several years, the Step By Step maintained a busy tour and recording schedule, under the supervision of Ms. Gee and Brunswick Records staff. Benny Clark, Johnnie Gee and Timothy Butler wrote some of the songs recorded by the group and by Johnnie Gee as a solo artist. The group became so popular that they purchased their own tour bus. By any measurement, Step By Step Band must be considered one of the most important Soul Music groups of the past 30 years. Originally a regionally popular group in the Midwest the group was together for a three years before getting a contract with Brunswick Records.

Step By Step remained with Brunswick Records until 1976, wanting more artistic freedom they felt they had to move on and work with several labels. The group name Step By Step Band had to be changed as it was owned by the Gee family, so each member reverted to solo careers. Dewitt (Boogie ‘D’) Gee went on to play with the famous Parliament/Funkadelic. Johnnie Gee had a number of popular records, in total made 5 singles between the years of 1976 and 1989.

In 1979 Johnnie Gee enlisted in Uncle Sam’s Army, US Armed Forces for 3 ½ years and completed his tour with an Honorable Discharge. Johnnie Gee didn’t waste anytime getting right back in the music saddle and recorded for several top bands and studios in

Milwaukee, Johnnie Gee teamed up with the popular Trumpet player Benny Emmerson who worked with the famous “Luther Allison Band”, Benny recorded such famous hits with the Luther Allison Band like: (K.T) and several other songs that are still popular today with blues music collectors.

Step By Step remained with Brunswick Records until 1976, wanting more artistic freedom they felt they had to move on and work with several labels. The group name Step By Step Band had to be changed as it was owned by the Gee family, so each member reverted to solo careers. Dewitt (Boogie ‘D’) Gee went on to play with the famous Parliament/Funkadelic. Johnnie Gee had a number of popular records, in total made 5 singles between the years of 1976 and 1989.

In 1979 Johnnie Gee enlisted in Uncle Sam’s Army, US Armed Forces for 3 ½ years and completed his tour with an Honorable Discharge. Johnnie Gee didn’t waste anytime getting right back in the music saddle and recorded for several top bands and studios in

Milwaukee, Johnnie Gee teamed up with the popular Trumpet player Benny Emmerson who worked with the famous “Luther Allison Band”, Benny recorded such famous hits with the Luther Allison Band like: (K.T) and several other songs that are still popular today with blues music collectors.

In 1982 Johnnie Gee, “fresh out the Army” started his own record label/production company “Sidetraxx Records” & Entertainment. The label produced 4 popular singles, breaking yet again more records with such celebrities like:, “Jr. Mafia” (Notorious B.I.G) clique, “Chic Delvic”, “Bizzy Bone”and Gansta Nip, and went on to sell over 550 thousand copies worldwide. Johnnie Gee has worked with the best producers, using the latest technology and special studio effects for the popular LP ‘Redemption’ recorded by the Universal Artist (Double R) and Bizzy Bone.  After 41 years of experience in all aspects of music, and being a complete entertainer, Johnnie Gee today controls all of his Publishing, Licensing, Distributing and copyrights.

In 2007 Paul Tarnopol, the son of the late Nat Tarnopol inked a deal with Sidetraxx Records/Johnnie Gee to continue and preserve the legacy of music and experiences Johnnie Gee earned over his 40 years as a professional recording artist.

2007 Press Release: (Sidetraxx Records/Johnnie Gee)

M2K To Distribute Sidetraxx Records May 16, 2007: Milwaukee based Sidetraxx Records inks deal with M2K for worldwide digital distribution. According to Sidetraxx president Johnnie Gee, Sidetraxx will be using the arrangement with M2K to develop and introduce new mid-west labels and recording artists. Prior to Sidetraxx Records, Johnnie Gee was one of the founding members of the group “Step by Step,” which recorded for the famous Brunswick Records, Platinum Records and Cuca Records.

Johnnie Gee will be 50 years old September 29th 2009, with 15 classics Northern Soul songs in his music catalog, Gee continues the music journey in 2009 with several professional labels and companies that provide services for indie and major artists today. Sidetraxx Records, Giasia Records, XXtremee Distribution, GE COM Music Publishing, and STDC Digital are just some the businesses Johnnie Gee attends to on a daily basis. To know music and have the skills Johnnie Gee has developed at age 50, is rare and hard to come by these days. If you are an artist, musician, label, manager or a music consultant, make sure you find someone with the experience and background like Johnnie Gee to lead your career, after 40 years Johnnie Gee is still strongly connected with most major labels, and shops Indie artist all the time.

Long time friend “Marshall Thompson” leader of The Chi-Lites and Johnnie Gee has partnered together to seek out new talent for the 2010 rosters at Sidetraxx and, Mer’ance Records, after the death of Johnnie Gee’s long time friend the “King Of Pop” Michael Jackson, his father Joe Jackson and Marshall Thompson started a record label, they also received some bad press, saying how bad of a father Joe was to Michael, and Marshall Thompson was being sought for fraud. In the defense of his long time friends, Johnnie Gee say’s “I have known both gentlemen for over 35 years now; and I have only the up most respect for their skills, friendship, and legacy.  These two gentlemen were key to my grooming and the success of becoming a popular artist, I had to do my best as well for my parents, spankings, switches, and being strict was key to being successful in the business back then, in fact more children who came up in the 60’s and 70’s had a simular kind of upbringing. So looking back to the 60’s and 70’s, compared to kids and success today, Johnnie Gee say’s strong backing made humble experienced artist, songwriter and musician he has become today, it took that kind of push from Mom, Dad and friends like Joe and Marshall to make a child successful.

Find out more about The Soul Legend Johnnie Gee on Myspace: www.myspace.com/johnniegee