James “Super-Chikan” Johnson
Born: February 16, 1951, Darling, Mississippi
Photo credit: Francoise Digel – firstname.lastname@example.org
Guitarist and guitar maker James Johnson is the nephew of fellow blues musician Big Jack Johnson. One commentator noted that Super Chikan, along with Big Jack Johnson, Booba Barnes, R. L. Burnside, and Paul “Wine” Jones were “present-day exponents of an edgier, electrified version of the raw, uncut Delta blues sound.” He spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Mississippi Delta and working on his family’s farms. He was fond of the chickens on the farm, and before he was old enough to work in the fields, he would walk around talking to them. This led his friends to give him the nickname “Chikan Boy”. At an early age, Johnson got his first rudimentary musical instrument, a diddley bow. As he grew up, he came up with new ways to improve and vary the sounds he could make with it. As a truckdriver, during the long stretches on the road, he began composing his own songs. When he showed some of the songs to his friends, they convinced him to go to a recording studio and record them. He then started playing with some renowned local musicians, but he decided he would rather perform on his own than try to conform his style to that of his bandmates. In 1997 he released his debut album, Blues Come Home to Roost, influenced by such musicians as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Chuck Berry. He went on to release What You See (2000), Shoot That Thang (2001), Chikan Super (2005), and Sum Mo Chikan (2007). In the Clarksdale area, he is probably best-known for performing regularly at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero blues club and for being Freeman’s favorite blues performer. He also played support to Steven Seagal’s band, ‘Thunderbox.’ Super Chikan’s latest release was Chikadelic.