Many know Johnie Gee’s on the scene act. In other words, they know the basic facts regarding this Milwaukee soul king. For instance, Johnie was born in Wisconsin September 29th, 1958 as the third child in a family of seven sibling’s total. They were a middle class, African American family, with each a passion for music. Although, it was Johnnie of course who had not only the greatest ambition but the largest talent.
Johnnie’s first rise to prominence came when he joined the Step by Step Band during 1969. Prior to that, Johnnie’s musical focus was purely on drums. He received his first drum set after he was struck by a car at the age of nine while returning home from playing in the streets. The Gee family soon realized the individual who owned the automobile that crashed into young Johnnie Gee was a jeweler, so they quickly filed a civil lawsuit and was compensated for the accident. The money was used to buy Johnnie’s first drum set, along with a handful of other musical equipment that was enough to kick start his career. Miracles really are disguised as tragedies, aren’t they?
Mr. Gee, the father of Johnnie Gee, vehemently supported his son’s music pursuit. The father, who was named D.W Gee, was a US veteran who had served in the Korean War. Following the war, he had joined the Wisconsin Electric company and became historically known as one of the first African American welders to work for said company. He knew the difficulty of the time period they were living in, particularly with the racism plaguing America, but knew music was one outlet where people could truly be themselves and express their opinions through beautiful and creative ways. Thus, he always encouraged and pushed his son to maximize his potential, and sooner than later Johnnie Gee joined his first prominent band, Step by Step.
Yet, Johnnie’s father wasn’t content. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t happy with his son’s achievement, he was ecstatic about the progress Johnnie was making, but he knew that this was the time that Johnnie should be working the hardest. Thus, Mr. Gee made sure that Johnnie practiced for hours on end, even when the routine seemed perfect already. The efforts must’ve paid off, as a few years later Johnnie and his band released Cash Money, their first single that topped the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January of 1976.
All in all, to neglect Johnnie’s dad in the retelling of Johnnie’s rise to fame would be a foolish error. If not for his fatherly support, wisdom, Australian betting companies and drive to see his son become more successful than him, Johnnie would not only have never worked so tirelessly on his stellar performances, but he also wouldn’t even have gotten to receive his first musical instruments, to begin with. It is safe to assume that Johnnie Gee would not have rose to fame if not for Mr. Gee’s ambition.