At the time of his death 15 years ago, Johnny Copeland was regarded as one of the world’s premier blues artists, a Grammy-winner with a strong body of work behind him. Success had come late, preceded by almost 30 years of working hard to make a living. In those years he recorded extensively, building a catalogue of 45s that did little to advance his career, despite their unbridled excellence. Many of those 45s fell into the hands of appreciative soul and blues collectors around the world, establishing Johnny as a cult hero whose work was always worth a listen.
Johnny had been working for a decade when he entered into a professional relationship with producer Huey Meaux in 1964, but it wasn’t until he came under Huey’s wing that his records found their way beyond Texas and onto bigger labels. Huey recognised Johnny’s talent and recorded him extensively. The records they made together form the basis of this important new 2CD set.
“It’s Me” is the most comprehensive collection of Johnny’s mid-60s to early 70s recordings ever assembled. Here you’ll find Huey Meaux-produced Wand, Suave, Jet Stream, Boogaloo and Wet Soul singles, material Johnny either sold to or cut directly for Kent-Modern in the early 1970s, two rare duets he recorded with South Texas R&B heroine Miss La Vell White as Johnny & Lilly, sides submitted to Wand for a proposed album that never happened, previously undocumented songs, and some fabulous vocal/guitar demos, some of which have never been issued before. None have ever sounded better than they do here, thanks to extensive vault research undertaken by me and my colleague Alec Palao in 2012. (Due to the disappearance or deterioration of a few tapes, fresh dubs were made and remastered from scratch.)
I first heard Johnny Copeland when my old pal Tony Cummings sat me down and played me ‘Dedicated To The Greatest’ almost 45 years ago. The power and soul in his voice made me an immediate fan. It’s been a true honour to work on a project that at last puts this classic material into the context it’s always deserved.
By Tony Rounce