Offbeat Magazine reports:
Drummer and percussionist Joseph “Smokey” Johnson died this afternoon after a long illness. He was 78.
Johnson was born in New Orleans on November 14, 1936 and is one of the “cornerstone” drummers and percussionists who created New Orleans’ indigenous jazz, funk, R&B and soul music, along with people like James Black and Earl Palmer.
Johnson was raised in Treme and originally played trombone before he began playing drums at age 12.
Johnson was loved and respected by all local musicians, and worked with New Orleans music luminaries Wardell Quezergue, Dave Bartholomew, Earl King and hundreds more. Johnson and Quezergue wrote the Mardi Gras standard “It Ain’t My Fault,” which as been covered by many musical groups, especially local brass bands, as it was one of the first tunes to incorporate second line syncopation into pop music.