JACK JOHNSON
by Miles Davis

The rise of Jack Johnson to world heavyweight supremacy in 1908 was a signal for white envy to erupt. Can you get to that? And of course being born Black in America... we all know how that goes. The day before Johnson defended the title against Jim Flynn (1912) he received a note "Lie down tomorrow or we string you up - Ku Klux Klan." Dig that!

Johnson portrayed Freedom - it rang just as loud as the bell proclaiming him champion. He was a fast-living man, he liked women - lots of them and most of them white. He had flashy cars because that was his thing. That's right, the big ones and the fast ones. He smoked cigars, drank only the best champagne and prized a 7 ft. bass fiddle on which he would proudly thump jazz. His flamboyance was more than obvious. And no doubt mighty Whitey felt "No Black man should have all this." But he did and he'd flaunt it. There wasn't a "smile-smile chuggin' along" implication in his broad grin that seemed to always be on his ebony face - in other words he was putting them on! What was a reality to Johnson was a living-color nightmare for the anti-Johnson Americans who couldn't get ready for his "truly sophisticated attitude." And the more they hated him, the more money he made, the more women he got and the more wine he drank. "Hate is the opposite of Love and both gain momentum." He won all his fights, when he wanted and how he wanted - including "The Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries on July 4, 1910. On July 5th they got it on with a riot - that's right, fire, at least ten dead, and the later (1911) Congressional law barring fight films from interstate commerce.

After his high society white wife committed suicide in a cafe he owned in Chicago, Johnson married another white women - it was no coincidence. But one could question the frame-up he faced. I mean, Jack Johnson being convicted of violating the "White Slavery Act" and being sentenced to a year to imprisonment...But exiled to Paris with joy - and as usual "Very Grand." It had to be Europe and they say he had a pet leopard he'd walk while drinking champagne with crowds following.

Miles Davis

Dig this - The fight he lost (1915) in Havana was rumored to be thrown - Jack Johnson died like he lived - in a fast car (1946 - age 68). The music on this album speaks for itself! But dig the guitar and the bass - They are "Far-in" - and so is the producer Teo Macero. He did it again!

- Miles Davis

 

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Jack Johnson  -  Miles Davis  -  Jack DeJohnette - Musicians