Cover photo for Albert (Sr)  Johnson's Obituary
1922 Albert 2017

Albert (Sr) Johnson

November 6, 1922 — June 22, 2017

Albert Johnson Sr. was born November 06, 1922, Albert was an accomplished, well-known jazz bassist who performed with the Jazz band The Hamiltones in Portland Oregon. He died Thursday, June 22, 2017. He was 94.

Al was born November 06, 1922, in North Little Rock Arkansas. He studied masonry and music at Dunbar High School before moving to Portland after graduating around 1942. Al joined Johnny Hamilton and the Hamiltones playing the bass and xylophone and before long, was the top-billed performer at many of Portland’s top Jazz clubs such as the Savoy, Carmens, the Cotton Club and many more. Al and the Hamiltones also enjoyed being featured on the Riverboat and in the Rose City Festival parade when it came to town.

Al played with many of the great Jazz musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Chris, Wardell Gray and was regularly listed in Portland entertainment guides. He often mentioned the time that “Lionel Hampton came to the Savoy and “jumped on my Vibraharp... he played it all night and I kept playing my bass until my fingers were bleeding!”

During the day, Al labored as a cement finisher for the city of Portland but when the sun went down, he would pack his upright bass into his station wagon and head to gig after gig. When Al wasn’t playing music or pouring concrete, he was out running Marathons and other running events and also volunteering to deliver meals for Loaves and Fishes.

By the time Al slowed down in life, he was in his mid 80’s and was living in a retirement home in Gresham. Fellow Jazz musicians would often come visit, set up his bass and put on a show at his nursing home.

Al passed away peacefully with family members by his side, leaving his son Kevin English-Cartier Johnson, daughter Michelle Milton, and son Albert Johnson jr., two granddaughters, his favorite cousin Ruth and many loving friends and family members.

I think the world would agree that Al lived a complete life.

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