Happy In Bag

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

LeRoi Johnson











Years before LeRoi Johnson became my boss, I bought records from him at Pennylane in Westport. He was far from my favorite guy at the store at the time- my taste in music aligned much more closely with LeRoi's more cordial colleagues including Dwight Frizzell and Saul Tucker. Although I later learned how sweet he was beneath his gruff exterior, LeRoi could sometimes be a real drag.

He taught me many valuable lessons when I went to work for him in the late '80s. LeRoi once overheard me mocking then-popular New Age music. In a stern lecture that left me a little rattled, he explained that the guy who'd just purchased the latest Windham Hill product might derive as much pleasure from a George Winston album as I received from Public Enemy. That's stuck with me. Some of the lessons he taught me were unintentional. Witnessing LeRoi's self-destructive tendencies reminded me that I didn't want to venture too far down that path.

I hadn't been much of a friend to him lately. I visited him at his home a few times and once at Saint Luke's Hospital last year. It's my loss. He had a lot more to teach me.

(LeRoi died yesterday. Scott Wilson's remembrance includes a couple of excellent links.)

11 Comments:

  • At 9:15 AM, Blogger Xavier Onassis said…

    I'm sorry to hear that. I can't claim to have "known" LeRoi, but I remember him well. He was quite a Character. R.I.P. LeRoi.

     
  • At 7:34 PM, Blogger Ruralgurl said…

    Dammit. This makes me so sad. LeRoi gave me a lot of good advice over the years. Yes, he was an acquired taste, but so is most really good stuff. R.I.P.

     
  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger Happy In Bag said…

    It takes one to know one, XO. Thanks again for the Charlie Parker report.

    I hoped you'd see this, RG. Please pass the word among your St. Louis friends. Incidentally, John Frost has been serving as one of LeRoi's primary connections to the outside world. He's a hero.

     
  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger bgo said…

    I ran into LeRoi at Price Chopper Brookside a few Sundays back. He was in the company of Mike Peak, his former boss at Budget and still close friend. I told him I'd stay in touch probably through Mike. All sorts of LeRoi stories race through my mind. One memorable took place at the Uptown where LeRoi had passed out in his chair. Some frat types a few tables away started tossing ice and other stuff at him. This pissed off a guy named Roger Naber who decided the ringleader must be dealt with in a physical manner. It got quite ugly.

     
  • At 2:05 PM, Blogger Happy In Bag said…

    I told Roger Nabor that you'd shared this story when I bumped into him last night, BGO.

     
  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger bgo said…

    Did Roger remember the incident?

     
  • At 4:59 PM, Blogger Happy In Bag said…

    I don't think he did.

     
  • At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Mike Webber said…

    Fittingly honest, Bill. And I can understand all aspects of it. Although LeRoi hired me, at the time he made a silly issue of his retiscence about hiring somebody from Capers Corner - as if we were Capulets & Montagues. We only bonded later when we both went apeshit over World Party's Goodbye Jumbo. After that, we were good.

     
  • At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Jim L said…

    Please leave any stories (or just go and read some) you have about Leroy over at http://leroy.dragontau.com/ Mike Peak & David Ryman set up the site.

    @Bill - I'm surprised anyone could hear anything at the Uptown -- Leroy's snores could rattle a house. I know -- I shared the house on Forest with him.

    @Mike Webber - Good thing you didn't work for Tiger. I don't think he would have forgiven you for that... unless you were a good looking girl.

     
  • At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Nickey said…

    Wasn't it Tiger that blasted ole' Ben in his driveway?

     
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