Johnny Jenkins / March 5, 1939 - June 26, 2006

Johnny Jenkins was an underrated guitarist and singer out of Macon, Georgia. Left-handed, he built a home-made "guitar" from a matchbox and rubber bands and he played it upside down (not unlike Jimi Hendrix, who was certainly inspired by Jenkins). He finally got a real guitar and hit the Southern circuit as a flamboyant showman.

His early '60s band, The Pinetoppers, gave Otis Redding an early job (singer and driver). Otis used extra Jenkins studio time to cut "These Arms Of Mine" (with Jenkins on guitar) in '62 and the rest is history for Otis. Jenkins was asked to join Otis' band but declined due to fear of flying! (Given the circumstance of Otis' early demise, perhaps he had a premonition?).

Jenkins didn't record much but his few records for Volt and Atco are expensive collector pieces. He cut one classic funky LP as one of the first records on the Capricorn label, Ton-Ton Macoute!, with Duane Allman on guest guitar. It took two years for the record to come out and was buried under Allmans promotion priorities. Jenkins continued to work day jobs for the rest of his life, including digging ditches and logging, with a comeback album in '96.

Ton-Ton Macoute! came about after Jenkins' career was sidetracked by his management's attention to Otis. In fact, it was only after Otis died that they turned any attention back to Jenkins. He cut only a couple of singles for Atlantic subsidiaries Stax and Volt before the Allman Brothers picked up the slack. The album was originally being created as a solo record for Duane Allman, in fact Allman plays most of the guitar on the album rather than Jenkins, who does contribute on a few cuts. Recording started in '69, but with the success of the Allman Brothers Band they were able to deflect the spotlight to one of their favorites in Jenkins, who cut the lead vocals tracks and had the album released under his name.

A funky mix of soul, rock, blues & country, the album is a cult classic. Mostly excellent cover tunes, it features songs by Dr John, Dave Bartholomew, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush and others. Check out "Voodoo In You", a swampy funk-rock number that may have inspired Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". Allman drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimo are laying down the rhythm.

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