Sales of a star-studded cover version of Chuck Berry classic Johnny B Goode will help fund a planned documentary about the song.
Grammy winners Michael McDonald and David Sanborn joined forces with producer and drummer Mike Mesey and guitarist Steve Scorfina for their new version of the track – which also features piano by the late Johnnie Johnson, who inspired the song.
The version was recorded in New York, St Louis and Los Angeles and the seeds were sown years ago when Mesey asked Johnson to play piano on a recording of Johnny B. Goode. Johnson ended up providing the only studio recording of him ever playing the song.
Years after Johnson’s death in 2005, Mesey heard a lap steel guitar performance by Scorfina, formerly of Pavlov’s Dog and REO Speedwagon, and immediately thought of Johnson’s piano tracks. They roped in McDonald, Sanborn and Jimmy Vivino to help complete the song.
Michael McDonald says: “On this track of the song Johnnie B Goode, producer Mike Mesey brings to life one of the last recordings played on by Johnnie. Musician Steve Scorfina’s slide guitar is a powerful driving force beneath the unrelenting genius of Johnnie’s piano track.
“Johnnie Johnson is a musician who continues to influence the rest of us even after his passing. It’s easy to appreciate the important, though largely unheralded, contribution he made along with others, in moving traditional African American blues toward the birth of rock’n’roll.”
The documentary Johnnie Be Good is being produced by Art Holliday and includes interviews with McDonald, Sanborn and Vivino, as well as rock music including Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Bob Weir, the late Bo Diddley, Bonnie Raitt, John Sebastian, Joe Perry, Dr John and Buddy Guy, among others.