Ode to Jef Lee Johnson: The Promise of Lovolution

Charles Blass By

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Jef was the man. A transcendental talent and human being. The world is a better place for his having been here. My world, personally, is a much better place for his having been in it. He was a musical big brother to me. I'm sad he's gone. I'm glad he's at peace though... because if anyone deserved some peace, he did. —Steven Wolf

I still can't believe Jef is gone. Just like that. Gone! MY FRIEND & BROTHER WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST MUSICIANS TO EVER CREATE MUSIC ON THIS PLANET. There's not enough room here to elaborate on all great times and experiences we shared together @ recording sessions, on stage, going camera shopping, just hanging @ his crib or mine... JEF was not only one of the best musicians in the world but he was a total gentlemen. On stage or off, what you got from JEF was real! NO PRESERVATIVES!! —Ted Thomas, Jr.

"Jef Lee Johnson is a gift from God," that's what Ronald Shannon Jackson told me once during an interview. Vernon Reid described him as "Good, hardcore good, and he can sing." Jef's passing is a huge loss for all of us that ever had a chance to witness his gift and experience his charming wit, and an even larger loss for those still to be touched by his legend. Jef and his music was, is and will forever be a bright moment. —J. Michael Harrison

Jef was as unique an artist as he was a human being. He was true to himself and with people. Jef was always inspired.

It's a rarity to see a musician play so many instruments at a high level and create everything from the ground up himself (recording, mixing, mastering, CD cover, video clips, flyers...).

Jef was a Griot, a Poet, a Messenger. All you have to do is listen to his lyrics to understand how deep he was.

How can an artist of this quality and vast musical experience be forgotten in the shadows? I think that's what makes Jef so special. He deserved so much more than he ultimately received.

Honestly, Jef Lee Johnson was the BEST the music has to offer.

His music and immense body of work will continue to spread all over the world. —Stefany Calembert & Reggie Washington

All he wanted was some good energy & folks enjoying his music. ... He got NO love. That's right! He said; "Watch what happens when I'm dead"!! Death shouldn't be a reason to tell of someone's accomplishments & greatness as a musician. We need that to go on in this hard & heartless business ! What about Jef ? We can be philosophical & say he can hear it all now from above. Cold facts; my Brutha got no love... & he wanted that. He deserved that. Better late than never ?? That ain't right !! Don't sweat it Jef. I told you every time we played during our 25+ year friendship. —Reggie Washington

Few journalists wrote about Jef's music and I've tried to spread his music for 6 years. Now that he is gone, you see articles everywhere in the world about him. ... Jef & I were speaking on the phone often and for hours, and he was saying : "Watch when I'll be dead, they'll start speaking about me !." He was right... So sad.

I wish people were smarter, more curious and with more heart. You have to wait for somebody to die to say I loved him, I miss him, he was wonderful! FUCK THAT! Show him or her love when he/she is ALIVE ! SCREAM IT !!! That's what Jef needed... RECOGNITION. He needed that so bad.

It's important that people know that Jef was very sad about this lack of recognition.

Honestly, if he had more attention ... I am sure he would take care better of his health and of himself. That was an every day suffering: "so much work and no recognition."

I think this business & the way people can be killed him morally and it didn't help his health.

What Jef wanted is that his music is heard, the rest he didn't give a damn. Music was the only thing he had after Trish (his wife).

When I asked Jef, what can I do for you? He said I want to play my music. Nothing else. —Stefany Calembert

One of the most gifted and humble musicians I ever met.... I am still trying to wrap my head around this. But after having a little time to reflect, as sad as I am, I honestly think that Jef is happier now. At least I hope he is. As unbelievably gifted as he was, and as humble as he was, and as kind as he was, he was also unbelievably sad. We are all blessed that he has left his legacy behind through his music, ...I will work to make sure that he is not forgotten.

He had canceled the show at the end of December, just after doing a show in New York City, when nobody came out to see his band. He told me he wouldn't be playing his original music live again. —Fern Brodkin

Bet you the real lyrics are; "Don't f*ck with my excellent day!" Holla... —Reggie Washington

But you know Jef never swore. —Rob Reddy



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