Johnny Rawls is from Purvis, Mississippi, a small town with about 2,000 residents near Hattiesburg. While still in high school he played guitar with soul music greats Little Johnny Taylor, The Sweet Inspirations, Joe Tex and ZZ Hill. Rawls hooked up with a true legend when he became bandleader for O.V. Wright, working and learning with the man many consider the finest deep soul singer of them all. After Wright died in 1980, Rawls led the O.V. Wright band for 13 years, touring and backing up B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland and and Little Milton.
Johnny Rawls is on the tour that never ends. Since going out on his own, he’s been on a relentless jaunt from club to club, festival to festival, nation to nation.
Johnny’s style of music can best be termed “soul blues,” and his warm, engaging manner draws the listener into his stories. The irony and glory of love give him plenty to sing about, and his show features his knockout guitar playing underlining his vocals. His recent album, Tiger in a Cage, went to number one on the Living Blues radio charts in its first month of release. He recently told me, “I’ve been playing around northern California for 15 years now, and it’s really a one-of-a-kind area. There’s some great people there, some great Blues fans. I love playing there.”
We do have a ball when Johnny comes to town, and it’s a real-deal showcase for deep south soul and joy when his journey from Purvis comes through northern California.