Reports are coming in from those close to Jef Lee Johnson that the Philadelphia guitarist has passed away. The cause of his death has not been revealed, nor has his age, though he was likely 53 or 54.
Johnson's career spans both numerous decades and genres, as he played with everyone from Esperanza Spalding to Questlove and The Roots. An article on Johnson in the Philadelphia City Paper notes that he actually learned his guitar chops by playing with jazz giant McCoy Tyner, a fellow Philly native and one of the greatest pianists of our time.
Johnson was also an essential member of The Soultronics, a massive super-group featuring members of the Roots, keyboardist James Poyser, bassist Pino Palladino, and others. This connection led to him working on such classics as Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun and Common's Like Water for Chocolate. Johnson also toured extensively as a member of D'Angelo's backing band.
The following are some tribute tweets from just a few of his close music friends.
to my soulquarian/soultronic brother Jef Lee Johnson you will be missed. you were such a magical musician & gentle human being.— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) January 29, 2013
Aw man. Praying for our lost brother Jef Lee Johnson. Incredible guitar player out of Philly. Loved and missed.— Brother Ali (@BrotherAli) January 29, 2013
R.I.P. to my big bro and mentor, one of the greatest guitar players ever, Jef Lee Johnson.#hurtingrightnow Love— JamesPoyser (@jamespoyser) January 29, 2013
Below, you can watch footage from an intimate show he held in May 2012 with bassist Chico Huff.
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