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Wesley "Wess" Johnson
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Birth: Aug. 13, 1945
Winston-Salem
Forsyth County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Sep. 21, 2009
Winston-Salem
Forsyth County
North Carolina, USA

Born in the United States (his real name was Wesley Johnson), he was a naturalized Italian singer. He was also the brother of another singer, Orlando Johnson. As a boy he lived in New York, where he was trained musically. Wess arrived in Italy in the early sixties, he started as a bassist, an arranger and singer (as he did, for instance, in the Sam & Dave cover of the song "Hold on, I'm coming") in a soul-funk group of the sixties, "The Airedales". In the band there was also his brother Marvin Johnson, who played drums. The band was on tour in Italy and joined the famous singer of that period, Rocky Roberts, with whom Wess shared the success. Wess decided to stay in Italy taking advantage of his own popularity and began his career as a solo singer, leaving his electric bass. In fact, in 1967, owing to some disagreements with the leader, the group broke up and Wess became the lead singer, debuting with its own version of "Senza luce", a cover of the Procol Harum song, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". He then recorded his first album as a solo artist, "The Sound of Soul". Success came in 1968 with the song "I miei giorni felici". In 1969 he took part in the musical event called "Cantagiro" with the song "Ti ho inventata io" and in the following year he presented the song "Tu che non mi conoscevi bene" at the "Festivalbar". At the beginning of the seventies, in 1972, he formed a singing duo with the Italian singer Dori Ghezzi. In fact, it was his idea. He wanted to record a duet, singing "Voglio stare con te", the Italian cover of "United we stand" and asked Dori Ghezzi, who was singing for the same label, to record the song with him. The result was so good that the record company wanted them to form a steady couple and, in fact, they became one of the most famous Italian singing couples. They got the nickname of the "coppia caffelatte", because he was black and she was white. In 1973, they took part in the yearly musical event called "Festival di Sanremo" with the song "Tu nella mia vita", being the first in the sales charts. "Voglio stare con te", "Noi due per sempre" and the famous song that won the 1974 musical event called "Canzonissima", "Un corpo e un'anima" consolidated the popularity and success of the duo, who placed themselves at the third place in the "Eurofestival" with the song "Era" and, in 1976, at the second place in the Sanremo festival with "Come stai?". In the following years, Wess took part in a lot of TV shows, intensifying its activities and devoting himself to singing in live concerts and producing music in Italy and abroad. In the eighties, he set up a recording studio and a record company in Canada, going back and forth from Canada to Italy. In the Sanremo Festival of 1994 he was in the team called "Squadra Italia", which was formed just on that occasion, and sang "Una vecchia canzone Italiana". From 2000 to 2006, he performed in many Italian squares, as he did when he was young, with his 'Wess Band'. In 2007 he appeared in a television music show presented by Carlo Conti, "50 Canzonissime" singing the song "Un corpo e un'anima", paired with an Italian singer, Giada. His last appearance in Italy was in 2008, when he sang the same song in a "virtual" duo with his old friend Dori Ghezzi, in the television show "I migliori anni", a show that was also presented by Carlo Conti. Wess suddenly passed away on September 21, 2009, during the night, in consequence of an asthma attack, at the hospital of Winston, North Carolina, his hometown. He was 64 years old and was on tour in Canada and in the United States. Just the day before his death he held a concert in New York and some days before he had gone to his mother, whom he hadn't seen for years. Wess leaves six children, among them Deborah, who is a singer and lives in Rome and Romina, who is a singer as well.

 
 
Burial:
Unknown
 
Created by: Kirsty
Record added: Nov 26, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 81014011
Wesley Wess Johnson
Added by: Kirsty
 
Wesley Wess Johnson
Added by: Kirsty
 
Wesley Wess Johnson
Added by: Kirsty
 
 
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- Precious Memories
 Added: Nov. 7, 2012
Remembering you today, as always. Thank you for the beautiful songs you sang with your powerful voice! You'll always be remembered! A prayer, with love...
- Kirsty
 Added: Nov. 26, 2011
 
 
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