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Guitarist/vocalist George Johnson and bassist/vocalist Louis Johnson formed the band Johnson Three Plus One with older brother Tommy and their cousin Alex Weir while attending school in Los Angeles. When they became professionals, the band backed such touring R&B acts as Bobby Womack and the Supremes. George and Louis Johnson later joined Billy Preston's band, and wrote "Music in My Life" and "The Kids and Me" for him before leaving his group in 1973.
Quincy Jones hired them to play on his LP Mellow Madness, and recorded four of their songs, including "Is It Love That We're Missing?" and "Just a Taste of Me." Jones took them on a Japanese tour, then produced their debut LP, Look Out for Number 1, after they signed with A&M, which was also his label at the time (1976). They scored a number-one R&B and number-three pop hit with "I'll Be Good to You," and enjoyed R&B chart toppers in 1977 and 1980 respectively with "Strawberry Letter 23" and "Stomp!," while sustaining a consistent hit presence via such songs as "Get the Funk Out Ma Face" and "Runnin' for Your Lovin." Jones remade "I'll Be Good to You" in 1989 with Ray Charles and Chaka Khan on his Back on the Block release.
The Brothers earned platinum records for Look Out for Number 1 and Right on Time. Jones produced both of these, along with their third and fourth LPs, Blam and Light Up the Night. The group produced its single "The Real Thing" in 1981. It reached number 11 on the R&B charts, and the Brothers had another hit with "Welcome to the Club" in 1982. They started doing separate ventures; Louis Johnson played bass on Michael Jackson's Thriller LP and recorded a gospel album, while George Johnson worked with Steve Arrington. Leon Sylvers produced their mid-'80s return LP Out of Control; it didn't equal their past success, but got them another R&B hit with "You Keep Coming Back" in 1984. They recorded Kickin' in 1988, and co-wrote "Tomorrow" with Siedah Garrett for Jones' Back on the Block in 1989.
The Brothers Johnson is an American funk and R&B band consisting of American musicians and brothers George aka 'Lightnin' Licks' and Louis E. Johnson aka 'Thunder Thumbs'. They achieved their greatest success from the mid-1970s to early '80s, with hit singles like "I'll Be Good to You"
Guitarist/vocalist George and bassist/vocalist Louis formed the band Johnson Three Plus One with older brother Tommy, and their cousin Alex Weir, while attending school in Los Angeles, California. When they became professionals, the band backed such touring R&B acts as Bobby Womack and the Supremes. George and Louis Johnson later joined Billy Preston's band, and wrote Music in My Life and The Kids and Me for him before leaving his group in 1973. In 1976, The Brothers covered the Beatles' song, Hey Jude, for the ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II.
Quincy Jones hired them to play on his LP Mellow Madness, and recorded four of their songs, including Is It Love That We're Missing? and Just a Taste of Me.
After touring with various artists like Bobby Womack and Billy Preston, they were hired by Quincy Jones for a tour in Japan and produced their debut album Look Out For #1, released in March 1976 (#9 U.S.) Their Right On Time album was released in May 1977 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 200. Blam!! came out in August 1978 and reached number 7 on the Billboard 200.
Two of the duo's songs were featured on the soundtrack of the 1976 film Mother, Jugs & Speed. The instrumental track Thunder Thumbs and Lightnin' Licks refers to the brothers' nicknames. Get the Funk Out Ma Face was cowritten with Quincy Jones.
Their popular album Light Up The Night was released in March 1980 and rose to number 5 on the Billboard 200. It was number 46 on the "Top 100 LPs of 1980" list in Rolling Stone Magazine. The subsequent album, Winners, was self-produced by the brothers and released in July 1981, but was less successful, going only as high as number 48 on the Billboard 200.
Among their most popular songs are I'll Be Good to You (Billboard Hot 100 #3 in 1976), Strawberry Letter 23 (Hot 100 #5 in 1977, originally recorded by Shuggie Otis), Ain't We Funkin' Now (1978), and Stomp! (Hot 100 #7 and Hot Dance Music/Club Play #1 in 1980). Their styles include funk, and R&B ballads. In addition, each album would include an instrumental cut or more which would either be considered lite jazz (Tomorrow 1976, Q 1977 Similin' On Ya 1980 & Tokyo 1984) or Funk (Thunder Thumbs & Lightning Licks 1976, Brother Man 1976, Mista Cool 1978 & Celebrations 1980)
1982 Split 
The duo split up in 1982 resulting in brief solo careers for the brothers.
Louis Johnson's solo work 
They started doing separate ventures; Louis Johnson played bass on Michael Jackson's Thriller and recorded a gospel music album in 1981 with his own group Passage, which included his then-wife Valerie Johnson and former Brothers Johnson percussionist/singer, Richard Heath. Louis recorded a single in 1985 called "Kinky," released on Capitol Records. The track appears on his Evolution album, which was released that same year only in Europe. Louis then started to register his bass skills on video, and accomplished about 3 instructional lesson-tapes for the Starlicks video-distribution company, from which the first release was also in 1985. He continued this initiative by starting his bass academy during the 1990s and giving workshop clinics to this day, via his own website.
George Johnson's solo work 
George Johnson released one single in 1985, titled "Back Against The Wall," on Quincy Jones' own Qwest label. There seems to be a complete album (recorded but unreleased) from that recording session, which George himself confirmed when he and Louis were interviewed around 1987/1988 for the Blues & Soul magazine in the United Kingdom (see link below). In addition to these solo projects, George delivered guitar work for Steve Arrington's album Dancing In The Key Of Life (1985) and had ad-libbed vocals on the track "Think Back And Remember" from the Galaxian album by the Jeff Lorber Fusion, released in 1981 on Arista Records.
Various 1980s reunions and other projects 
The brothers reunited briefly in 1984 to record an album. Produced by Leon Sylvers, the resulting LP, Out of Control did not equal their past success, but did garner them another R&B hit with "You Keep Me Coming Back." After an interim period, the duo regrouped again to record Kickin' in 1988. The album-title of the Kickin project was a collaboration with Irene Cara, who was then their neighbor. Although this album saw even more limited success, it did include the minor hit, "Kick it to the Curb."
In between those two albums, both George and Louis released their aforementioned solo material. The brothers also both appeared on the Street Shadows album of keyboard-player/arranger David Diggs, who formerly provided horn and string arrangements for albums like Winners, Blast, and the Passage project of Louis. "Last Night," the opening track on that David Diggs album, shows George's versatility to perform on the bass guitar as well. He previously showed his bass skills on tracks like "Teaser" from Winners and "The Great Awaking" from Blast, the same way that Louis shows his guitar skills on various compositions of the sibling duo.
In addition, during this time, the band's song "Tomorrow" (originally an instrumental on the B-side of "Get The Funk Out Ma Face") was recorded with vocals sung by Tevin Campbell for Quincy Jones' Back on the Block release in 1989. This album also included Jones' hit remake of the Brothers Johnson's "I'll Be Good to You," featuring Ray Charles and Chaka Khan.
The 2002 reunion tour 
Besides a brief appearance of the brothers in Japan around 1994, and George making a guest-appearance in the 1990s on a concert in Japan (including a released double-CD) of the Graham Central Station, the duo launched an expanded US tour in 2002 which got positive, wide exposure. It was visited by many fans and various artists in the entertainment business. Along with a website and discussion-forum, online visitors could share their experiences of the shows by reliving the hey-days of Funkadelala and wander through the Land of Ladies. A few years after that, a combi-release of live-CD + DVD came on the market under the name of Strawberry Letter 23: Live.
Until recently, the brothers have been doing performances on their own. In 2006, Louis gave a duo-show with a drummer, on the Poetry In Motion 1 Festival, Maryland. In late 2007, George performed with his own band at a Detroit-Festival, including a persona called Sir Nose. George also performs these days with a special band, including Adina Howard, Cherrelle, Ray Parker Jr., and a few more artists, which is an initiative of Michael Henderson.