MOORE, JOHN DUDLEY [JOHNNY]
Listen to this artist
MOORE, JOHN DUDLEY [JOHNNY] (1906–1969). John Dudley "Johnny" Moore, rhythm-and-blues guitarist and bandleader, was born in Austin on October 20, 1906. Moore's father was a violinist, and Moore began playing guitar for his father's string band in 1934. The family moved to Phoenix, and Johnny played in a duo with his brother Oscar before moving to Los Angeles, where Moore joined a group called the Blazes, with whom he performed until 1942.
He soon formed his own band, the Three Blazers. Eddie Williams played bass and Garland Finney played piano, although he left the following year to be replaced by Charles Brown. Brown, whom Moore had first seen at an amateur talent show, was not only a pianist but a singer as well. The Blazers began recording in 1944 for the Atlas label. Between 1945 and 1948, the group recorded extensively for Exclusive, Philo/Aladdin, and Modern. During this time the group became a household name with such hits as "Driftin' Blues," "Merry Christmas Baby," "Sunny Road," and "More Than You Know."
Moore's younger brother Oscar, who had previously been a member of the Nat King Cole Trio, joined the group in 1947. Shortly thereafter, problems arose and Brown left the Three Blazers. Moore tried to replace Brown with sound-alikes, but had only minimal success. One replacement vocalist, Billy Valentine, took the group to the R&B charts with "Walkin' Blues" on RCA Victor in 1949. After recording for Victor, Moore's Blazers recorded for a number of Los Angeles labels. Two successful label recordings were "Dragnet Blues" on Modern in 1953 and "Johnny Ace's Last Letter" on Hollywood in 1955.
Moore and Brown were reconciled in the mid-1950s, and the original Three Blazers reunited. They recorded for Aladdin, Hollywood, and Cenco. By that time, Moore's style of guitar, which has been described as cool, sophisticated, and melodic, was out of favor with most R&B fans. Moore performed solos on recordings by Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Floyd Dixon, and on tracks with his own group. Blues legend B. B. King lists Moore as one of the top ten guitarists of all time.
Moore recorded with various groups after the Three Blazers broke up, but was not professionally active for a number of years before his death, though he did teach young musicians. He had only one kidney, which complicated his ability to recover from the flu, and he died of kidney failure at his Los Angeles home on January 5, 1969. No obituary was published upon his death.
Dave Dexter Jr., "Dexter's Scrapbook," Billboard, March 8, 1969. Down Beat, March 6, 1969. Colin Larkin, ed., Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Volume 5 (London: MUZE UK, 1998).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Amy Cockreham, "Moore, John Dudley [Johnny]," accessed October 21, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmobz.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 3, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.