The late great Clarence Johnston…Swing in Peace!

The late great Clarence Johnston…Swing in Peace!


We lost another good one…

Clarence Johnston [CJ] passed away Friday May 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. For those that don’t know, he was my jazz drumming teacher for 10+ years. Without him, I would not be the drummer that I am. I’m not alone in the class either. For over 50 years, he taught a who’s who of drummers in Los Angeles. To start naming names would amount to a list of individuals that have greatly influenced the sound of contemporary Black music.

This is by no means an obituary; instead, this is just me reflecting on the life of a great man. From the time we met in 1998, I spent a lot of time talking and listening to CJ. Whether we were shedding together in the hills of Hollywood, or talking via phone, he always had great stories to tell and keen insight to share. Through him I felt a strong connection to all those who came “swinging” down this path before me. I was very fortunate to have been in L.A. at that time.

Aside from all of the music theory and drum techniques that he taught me, it’s what he instilled in me that I’ll carry forward. There were many lessons [life] to be learned from CJ too. He was an outstanding musician who chose to play the drums, a good friend, and a great gentleman.


As I mentioned, CJ loved to tell stories…he is highlighted in a a series of min-documentaries that I am producing. To hear some of his words, please click below.