Johnny Jenkins

Band members                             Related acts

- Johnny Jenkins (RIP 2006) -- vocals, guitar , harmonica


  backing musicians:

- Duane Allman (RIP) -- guitar, dobro

- Tippy Armstrong -- percussion

- Ella Brown -- vocals

- Pete Carr -- guitar

- Eddie Hinton -- percussion

- Paul Hornsby -- guitar, keyboards

- Jai Johnny Johnston -- percussion

- Robert Popwell -- bass, percussion

- Barry Oakley (RIP)  -- bass

- Butch Trucks -- drums

- Johnny Sandlin (RIP) -- drums

- Johnny Wyker -- percussion




- The PInetoppers



Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Ton Ton Macute!

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: K40105

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 810

Price: $80.00


The late Johnny Jenkins is an interesting guy - tremendously talented and far more influential in music circles (including supposedly having a major impact on a young Jimi Hendrix), than his limited catalog and commercial success would lead you to believe. 


He was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. As a self-taught, left handed blues guitarist (he built his first guitar out of a cigar box), Jenkins initial recognition came in the early 1960s as the leader of The Pinetoppers. The group played dances, clubs, and the local college frat circuit, attracting some attention with a ferocious and flamboyant live show.  Jenkins also attract notoriety for having spotted a young Otis Redding playing at a local talent show, Jenkins hired him as the band's driver and gofer, subsequently backing  Redding on a couple of early singles. 


In 1961 Jenkins and the Pinetoppers recorded their debut single for banker James Newton's small Tifton, Georgia-based TIFCO Records - the instrumental 'Love Twist'.  The song picked up some local airplay and was then picked-up and re-issued by Joe Galkin's Atlanta-based Gerald label. Gallkin was Atlantic Records' southern A&R/promotion man and he convinced Atlantic to release the 45 nationally.



   credited to Johnny Jenkins and the PInetoppers

- 1961's 'Love Twist' (instrumental) b/w 'Pinetop' (instrumental) (TIFCO catalog number 825) 

- 1962's  'Love Twist' (instrumental) b/w 'Pinetop' (instrumental) (Gerald catalog number 1001) 

- 1962's  'Love Twist' (instrumental) b/w 'Pinetop' (instrumental) (Atlantic catalog 45-2144) 


Galkin approached Stax about recording a releasing a follow-up and later in the year Jenkins and company  traveled to Memphis to record some demo material.  Having been a full member of The Pinetoppers for a couple of years, Otis Redding drove the band to Memphis and when some extra time was left at the end of the recording sessions, he was given an opportunity to record the ballad 'These Arms of Mine' (with Jenkins on guitar and Steve Cropper of keyboards). The sessions resulting in both The Pinetoppers and Redding being signed by Stax's Volt subsidiary. Redding went on to become a superstar, while Jenkins recorded a couple of  sides that finally saw the light of day in 1964: 



  credited to Johnny Jenkins

- 1964's 'Punky' (instrumental) b/w 'Bashful Guitar' (instrumental) (Volt catalog number V-122)

- 1967's 'Soul Boo-Ga-Loo' b/w 'Ring-o-Ling' (Gaye catalog number 5001-1/2)


Jenkins turned down an offer to join Redding's touring band (depending on which story you subscribe to, either out of fear of flying, or personal jealousy), and eventually returned to Macon where he held down a string of day jobs while playing local clubs on weekends. With the exception of an instantly obscure  1967 single released for the Decatur, Georgia Gaye label, he didn't step back into the spotlight until 1970 when he teamed up with Walden to record his first album on Walden's newly formed, Atlantic-affiliated Capricorn label.


Produced by Walden (Duane Allman and Johnny Sandlin handling two tracks), "Ton Ton Macoute!" showcased an incredible mixture of blues, Cajun swamp-rock moves, and rock moves.  Jenkins was immensely appealing throughout the album; his raw, gritty voice making hardcore blues tracks like 'Rollin' Stone' appealing to folks who normally didn't find the genre attractive.  And while he was supposedly influential on Hendrix, I'd argue those influences cut both ways.  To my ears, there was more than a touch of Hendrix influence in tracks like 'Voodoo In You.  In addition to support from the crack Capricorn studio band, the collection featured a big chunk of The Allman Brothers Band (in addition to Allman, bassist Berry Oakley, percussionist Jai Johnny Johnston, and drummer Butch Trucks participated in the sessions).  All hyperbole aside, the combination of Jenkins snarling vocals and Allman's wicked dobro and guitar were simply mesmerizing.   I simply can't remember the last time I heard an album where I liked each and every one of the songs.    


"Ton Ton Macoute!" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Walk On Guilded Splinters   (Dr. John Creaux) - 5:23

Dr. John's version was the one I grew up with and as much as I love it, this version may be even better.  Kicked along by Jenkins sandpaper voice and Duane Allman on dobro (Jenkins and Pete Carr on guitar), this song simply oozed backwoods soul.  The irony is that as good as Jenkins performance was, in recent years the song's rhythm track has fueled the song's rediscover.  Powered by Allman Brothers  Butch Trucks on drums and Jai Johnny Johnston on percussion, the song's been sampled by scores of songs including Beck's 'Loser', Blackalicious' 'A to G', Oasis 'Go Let it Out', and a bunch of others.   None of the samples come close to the original performance.  Capricorn tapped the song as a single, but didn't seem to have a clue how to market it.   I've only seen promo copies of the 45.    rating: **** stars

2.) Leaving Trunk   (Sleepy John Estes) - 4:07

Even though it was properly credited to Sleepy John Estes, the original song title was 'Milk Cow Blues' - 'Leaving Trunk' being the title Taj Mahal slapped on the song when he did a cover of it in 1968.  Regardless of the song's pedigree, sounding like he was about to go off the tracks, Jenkins cover made for a wonderful slice of hardcore blues - blues for folks that don't like there genre.  rating: **** stars

3.) Blind Bats and Swamp Rats  (Jackie Avery) - 4:46

You can hear The Allman Brothers (or at least Duane, Butch, Jai and bassist Barry Oakley) all over this one and the result is a killer mash-up of blues, funk, and New Orleans influences.  Ella Brown provided the female vocals.   rating: **** stars

4.) Rollin' Stone   (McKinley Morganfield) - 4:58

A killer slice of acoustic blues with Jenkins on vocals, guitar, and tapping foot, with Allman playing slide, and Barry Oakley on bass.   Another slice of blues for folks who didn't like the blues.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Sick and Tired   (Chris Kenner - Dave Bartholomew) - 4:11

With Allman and company providing support, Jenkins transformed 'Sick and Tired' into a dark and threatening promise of retribution.   Stunning.   rating: **** stars

2.) Down Along the Cove   (Bob Dylan) - 3:03

Produced by Allman and Johnny Sandlin, this is one of the best Dylan covers ever recorded (if one of the least known) ...   Duane turned in some of his patented sizzling slide guitar with Jenkins  turning in equally impressive harmonica.   rating: **** stars

3.) Bad News   (John D. Loudermilk) - 3:21

The second track produced by Allman and Sandlin, the rollicking blues-rocker 'Bad News' has always reminded me of an Allman Brothers track (Jenkins stepping in for Greg Allman).  As an Allman fan, you can't provide much higher praise than that.   rating: **** stars

4.) Dimples   (James Bracken - John Lee Hooker) - 2:40

Another one where Duane's slicing guitar kicked a good song into great territory ...   To my ears, on this one Jenkins' vocals and overall delivery have always reminded me of a Jimi Hendrix vibe.   rating: **** stars

5.) Voodoo In You   (Jackie Avery) - 5:05

Apparently recorded live in the studio, 'Voodoo In You' was plenty funky, but it also served as the album's most rock oriented tune.   The refrain was wonderful and it should have provided Jenkins with a massive radio hit (Atlantic certainly thought so, releasing it as a single).    rating: **** stars


 As mentioned, the album  was tapped for a single:


- 1970's 'I Walk On Guilded Splinters' (mono) b/w 'I Walk On Guilded Splinters' (stereo) (Capricorn catalog number C-8000) 


In the UK Atlantic elected to release a different 45: 




- 1970's ' The Voodoo In You' b/w 'Backside Blues' (Atlantic catalog 226009) 


Sadly the album did little commercially, though it's become a sought after collectable amount Allman Brothers fans, blues, and soul collectors. Dejected, Jenkins again largely disappeared from music. He recorded an album in 1975, but the project was shelved (some of the material appeared on a 2001 album) . He didn't emerged from the shadows until 1996 when Walden again convinced him to record. The results were a series of three blues-oriented collections: 


- 1996's "Blessed Blues" (Silver Sounds catalog number 731453256521)

- 2001's "Handle with Care"  (Orchard catalog number #8504)

- 2005's "All In Good Time" (Mean Old World catalog number 809239)


Only 67, still living in Macon, Jenkins suffered a fatal stroke in June 2006.