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Like a Rolling Stone...


Johnnie Johnson was in town, and playing at Chicago Blues....
I picked him up at the airport, like I usually do. I sat in on Friday night, like I usually do. I met him Saturday Afternoon for lunch, like we usually do. (Sylvia's in Harlem) Went to see him play Saturday night, like I usually do. And who walked in...... Keith Richards. He sat in for the first set, it was amazing! I went backstage in between sets and Johnnie grabbed my arm, pulled me over to Keith and introduced me as his favorite keyboard player. Keith and I were joking around and talking, laughing, even singing old standards like 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "Satin Doll". Just me, Johnnie and Keith! I told Keith I am a student of Johnnie's. He said "Aren't we all!" Then, they all went up for the second set. Jimmy Vivino and Keith were dueling on the guitars. And Jimmy kept the pace going, singing one song right after another. Then, Jimmy started singing "Johnnie Be Goode" which, during the chorus, "Go Johnnie, Go!", is usually Johnnie's cue to get up and wave good-bye to the audience and go. Well......... Johnnie didn't go. At the end of the song, Johnnie just waited for the crowds to calm down. He paused and said over the mike, "It's not fair. There have been two guitar players up here all night and only one keyboard player. I think we need to have TWO keyboards. C'mon Doña" Well, I jumped so high out of my seat, flew up on stage, and sat next to Johnnie at the piano. We boogied together. Then Johnnie got up from the piano and stood back behind me and put his arms out as if to say "watch this girl go!" As soon as Johnnie stopped playing and I was playing the piano alone, Keith turned around and looked at me and stopped playing guitar for a moment. He actually let go of his guitar and, if it wasn't strapped on, I think he would have dropped it. His mouth dropped open and a big grin came over his face, and with pride, he looked me right in the eye and said (with his Austin Powers accent) "You're a bitch!" I don't know how this translates in writing but it was DEFINITELY a compliment!!!! (like, you're a bitch on the keys!) After a while Johnnie came back and boogied with me again. Jimmy Vivino came over and sandwiched me between himself and Johnnie and then Keith came over and started hittin' the keys, too. The four of us on one keyboard! Then, Johnnie got up and waved to the crowd and started off stage while the band kept playing. It was like he passed the torch to me and said "take it away, kid". He left the stage and left me at the piano to finish the song. When the music ended, Keith came over to me and gave me a big bear hug! Then his "personal assistant" came up to the stage and whisked him out of the club and into a car. It was the greatest night of my life!

- Doña


*This was originally written before Johnnie Johnson passed away