Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Biography by Richie Unterberger

The nephew of Sonny Terry, Johnny "J.C." Burris was also a blues harmonica player, though he didn't record too much. He is noted for his use of African rhythm bones, two sticks played like castanets that can be played off the harmonica. Burris did some performing in New York in the 1950s and worked on recording sessions with Terry, Sticks McGhee, and other artists on Folkways Records. At the end of the decade, he relocated to California, finding some work in folk clubs in San Francisco before a stroke in 1966 robbed him of his use of his right side. Several years later, he regained his mobility on his right side, and in 1973, he began performing again, recording some solo unaccompanied material in 1975-1976 that appears on Arhoolie's Blues Professor album. He continued playing at schools, clubs, and festivals until his death in 1988.


johnny j.c. burris