In 1938 Bill Russell and Fredric Ramsey started to write their book, “Jazzmen”. After interviewing several Jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Bunk’s name kept coming up as one of the early influential jazz musicians in New Orleans. They managed to track Bunk down in New Iberia, Louisiana where he was living, and interviewed him for the book. Bunk lied about a great many things, including his birth date, so that it would look like he had been one of the first Jazz musicians. It took years until other historians figured out that Bunk was shall we say, “full of bunk” . Despite all that, Bunk’s colorful stories contributed to the success of the book, and the authors took up a collection among musicians and record collectors to fix Bunk’s teeth and buy him a new horn. He made his first recordings in 1942, and became a popular fixture of the Dixieland revival of the 1940’s.
For investigations into his date of birth see Doctor Jazz. For a longer article on his career see Bunk Johnson: Profiles in Jazz
|Bunk Johnson and his Superior Jazz Band||Bunk Johnson’s Jazz Band|
|Bunk Johnson and his New Orleans Jazz Band||Bunk’s Brass and Dance Band|
|Bunk Johnson by Christopher Hillman, Universe Books, 1988|
|Willie Geary “Bunk” Johnson by Austin M. Sonnier, Jr., Cresendo Publishing, 1977|
|Jazzmen by Bill Russell and Fredric Ramsey, Harcout, Brace, 1938|