Sleepy Johnson 1978

Born in Locker, Texas, the youngest of eleven children to Doc & Molly Tally Johnson. Sleepy at an early age became quite resourceful in entertaining himself. His first instrument was made from a shingle and sewing thread. His next was made from an apple box. It was not until he was 14 years old that he acquired his first musical instrument.

sleepy_johnsonLater in Ft. Worth, Sleepy started playing with Bob Wills as the Light Crust Doughboys. Possibly there are few instruments of which he lacked a knowledge . The banjo is one of his better-known accomplishments. It is with this instrument Sleepy contributed to the success of the Light Crust Doughboy Band. Mr. Johnson worked hard during the day and many nights were sleepless! Many nights he played with his eyes closed-thus acquiring the nickname “Sleepy”.

While playing with the Doughboys in Ft. Worth one night, he met Elnora Beard, whom we know as “Sally”. On March 13, 1934, listeners to radio stations WBAPS-Ft. Worth, KPRC Houston and WOAI in San Antonio, heard the marriage ceremony of Sleepy and Sally as the Doughboys played the Wedding March ,while entertaining at the livestock show. Sleepy stayed with the Doughboys for two years after Bob Wills left them. Then he went to work for Bob in Tulsa, Oklahoma in his western band known as “The Texas Playboys”. It was with the Texas Playboys on stage at a Bob Wills Memorial Fiddle Contest, April 24, 1976 at Turkey, Texas that Sleepy quietly passed away.

In his years of playing with the Doughboys, Sleepy started playing on the fiddle the many tunes that are so well-known to fiddlers. He was a fiddler to be reckoned with in any contest, winning many first place honors. Because of his fairness and sincerity, his dedication to providing music enjoyment to thousands who were privileged to listen-we now honor him. The beauty of his waltzes brought tears to many eyes-his peppy breakdowns and other type of music brought smiles. His wife Sally, their daughter, Shirley Throne, their son, Benny, their 7 grandchildren, his brothers and sisters and other members of his family, and all who knew and loved him, have many precious, loving memories of this man.