The career of soul singer Howard Johnson has involved at least one extended period of taking a break to catch a breath, so to speak. It is one of many differences he has with the famous tuba player and multi-instrumentalist of the same name, whose lungs have yet to falter through what seems like an endless series of recording sessions. The vocalist started out in Miami, holding forth in local bars and clubs until the appearance of a life-changing business contact. That was Sandy Torano, a guitarist and producer associated with performers such as the Commodores and Phyllis Hyman. Johnson was his choice for a new vocal group and thus began the singer's recording career. It was 1977, the group was called Nite Flyte, and the label was Ariola. The project lasted for two albums, nonetheless creating enough of a buzz for A&M to go forward on signing Johnson to a solo contract in the early '80s. A trio of producers featuring Kashif, Paul Laurence Jones, and Morris Brown worked hard at Keepin' Love New, both "So Fine" and the title track doing very well in the British market. He did three albums for the label, the series concluding in 1985 with The Vision. At the end of the decade the singer returned to A&M as part of the duo Johnson & Branson with Regis Branson. In the interim, Johnson had done some recording with singer Donna Allen. The '90s, if not a completely fallow period, represented a stark respite from the action-packed '80s. Johnson was not really to be seen until he showed up again with old pal Branson in the new millennium, this time at the behest of a Japanese outfit, Soul Japan, that had gone wasabi-mad for the sound of old-school '80s soul. Packed and Waitin' was released in 2002, only a few years after the Instinct label had seen fit to repackage and reissue the original Nite Flyte material. The paths of the two name-alikes actually crossed when singer Howard Johnson hired the tuba player of the same name for a recording session. Discographers celebrated by getting together for banana splits at a Howard Johnson restaurant. ~ Eugene ChadbournePortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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