Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009

03/29/2022

Remembering Greg Johnson

By TERRY CURRIER // Music Millennium's owner remembers the life of Greg Johnson

The Portland Blues Community lost their #1 advocate , Greg Johnson, on March 24th.

Greg had been the president of the Cascade Blues Association for several decades and helped keep Portland as one of the top Blues cities in the United States. His efforts were recognized far beyond the region as he was a recipient of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award in 2016, which he was presented with in Memphis, TN. 

Supporting Blues music was a passion of his and he became respected by both artists and fans. He lived and breathed the Blues and did whatever it took to promote and preserve it. He was a big champion of new artists and helped put on the “Journey To Memphis” competition that selected a new artist in the area to represent Portland at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis each year.

 He also took time off from his job each year to go to Memphis and help with the competition as a judge. Greg was also the stage manager for seven years of the events at the Orpheum Theater.

Greg was like an “Ambassador of Blues” and was at most live Blues music shows by national and international artists, welcoming them to our city and in many cases, becoming long time friends with many of them as they returned over the years. 

He was presented with the George Page “Back What You Believe” award in 2021 by the Cascade Blues Association, an award he won three previous times. It’s an award given to a person within the Blues community that really has stepped up to the plate during their life to support the blues and the Cascade Blues Association. These bookend his “Lifetime Achievement” award given to him 2008

His other passion was photography and you could see him shooting photos at most Blues events in the city. Along with that, he loved writing and was a regular contributor to the Cascade Blues Notes, which many of his photos accompanied. Much of this has documented much of the Northwest’s Blues history over the years. Greg also co-authored the book “Blues On Beale Street: Memoirs Of The International Blues Challenge”.

Myself being a Cascade Blues Association member since it’s inception in 1987, it’s hard to think of anyone that has put as much effort aas Greg into the blues community. He was considered the “best friend of the Blues community” by everyone that was part of it. 

He fought a hard battle against cancer and a stroke this past year with the help of the love of his life, wife Cherie. He was an inspiration to all of us and will truly be missed.

 

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Comments

Margaret Stockert

I would see him at Waterfront Blues Festival every year.He was always so kind.

Randy Yearout

Great remembrance Terry. Greg was one-of-a-kind! Tracey Fordice and I will remember him always.

James P. Hurley

Greg is deeply missed. His support of the all art but especially the Blues is appreciated by all music lovers. Great organizational skills kept many spinning plates in the air at all times and made Portland Blues Central.

Alexander King

Thank you Terry Currier. I didn’t know Greg personally, but as a longtime supporter of Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival and several of the blues artists, I knew of Greg. I recognized his contributions to the local blues scene when we attended the blues for Slim Lively Benefit concert. I also recognized how loved and respected he was to our blues community here in Portland and the NW. I feel blessed to have some acquaintance with many of the artists that Greg championed throughout his time as President of The Cascade Blues Association. My wife Michelle and I finally joined the CBA last year and we look forward to getting more involved as volunteers. Being so well respected and loved, Greg was surely a genuine friend and lover of the artists he worked to promote. Thanks again Terry, for giving someone like me perspective on what a tremendous man who is loved by so many. Rest In Peace Greg, your contributions and love for the blues resonated far beyond those who knew you personally.

Lamar Savage

Terry, your words do a great job of proving that The Blues never had a better friend in the PNW than Greg.

Jean-Pierre Garau

Thank you Terry. :’-)

Missi & John Baker

Thanks for this beautiful tribute, Terry. Greg had more knowledge of, and passion for, the blues in his pinkie finger than most people ever will have. His and Cherie's love for each other was also such a joy to observe. May he rest in peace and power. Love, Missi & John

Jan Mancuso

Greg Johnson has been the face of Portland’s robust Blues scene for decades. An irreplaceable advocate here and in the larger Blues community. His dedication to the International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards events in Memphis helped promote the Blues And Portland worldwide. We’ll miss him in so many ways. Rest In Peace, Greg. Terry, thank you for your salute.

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