(AP) – St. Louis jazz and blues pianist Johnnie Johnson has been
posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill presented the
award to Johnson’s widow, Frances Johnson, in a ceremony Monday at the National
Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis. The U.S. Congress gives out the award, which
is one of the highest civilian honors in the nation.
Johnson was a member of the Montford Point Marines, an African-American unit
which desegregated the U.S. Marine Corps, before embarking on a musical career
that culminated with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Johnson was a pianist for fellow future Hall of Fame member Chuck Berry and
was the inspiration for Berry’s song “Johnnie B. Goode.”
The musician died in St. Louis in 2005 and is buried at the Jefferson Barracks
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