Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Plas John Johnson Jr, 21 July '31, New Orleans) Tenor and alto saxes, flute; studied soprano with his father. Ubiquitous sideman on West Coast rock'n'roll, R&B records in '50s made him a legend among teenagers conscious of who was playing on the records, but soon revealed to all as a well-rounded, underrated musician. Studio work in '60s, incl. originating Henry Mancini's Pink Panther music on film and LP '66; played in studio band for Merv Griffin on TV '70. Continued to gravitate towards jazz in '70s, working with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, own group, etc. Records (apart from countless studio sessions, e.g. with Harry Belafonte, Shorty Rogers '58) incl. Capitol LP '60 with Red Callender, drummer Earl Palmer, Ernie Freeman on organ plus strings; The Blues '75 with Brown, Ellis, Bobbie Hall on congas, Jake Hanna on drums, Mike Melvoin on keyboards and Positively '76 adding drummer Jimmie Smith, both on Concord Jazz. He also recorded with the Capp/Pierce big band on that label.