Texan Delores Johnson got her break into professional show business when that shameless hustler Ike Turner was looking for a replacement set of Ikettes to tour with his revue on the back of Tina’s first smash “A Fool In Love”. The original Ikettes he had borrowed from Art Lassiter was unavailable for a variety of personal reasons and so Delores (or Dee Dee as she was also known) took over the lead singing duties. As well as touring for Turner she also appeared on at least the first two 45s under the groups’ name which Turner leased to Atco. The hit was the first one “I’m Blue” which bore more than a passing resemblance to “A Fool In Love” as Ike milked those chords for all they were worth. Johnson herself is forceful and tough as you would want, while behind her you can surely hear Tina as well.
The follow ups, recorded in LA as well, weren’t as successful and Delores left the Ikettes when Robbie Montgomery, Venetta Fields and Jesse Smith returned but she did have a couple of solo releases in 1962. The Carnival 45, probably recorded when she was in New York on the Revue’s stopever there, is disappointing. Although her powerhouse vocals are all there, the material is poor. Much better, in fact a different ball game altogether, is her Bobbin 45 recorded in St Louis where Ike was still living at the time. “Gotta Find My Baby” is run of the mill rockin’ R & B but Give Me Your Love is a blues ballad of high class. Check out her demented wailing and high pitched screams over a cooing chorus and some typically hard hitting Turner guitar. A track to savour.
Johnson made a duet with Ike too for one of his boutique labels Innis. “You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too” is an easy paced slice of R & B, with a standard Turner “cheap and cheerful” production. And that seemed to complete her time with the Turners. She must have returned home to Texas as the only other disc she seems to have made was with the Dallas based music man Les Watson. One side of the famous – and rare – Cottonball 45 was a Watson solo but “It Hurts Me So Bad” was a duet between the two of them. This number is based on a sort of “Something You Got” riff and it comes across as an attractive piece of light R & B. But not a a patch on the emotional depth of “Give Me Your Love” sadly.
Gotta find my baby / Give me your love ~ BOBBIN 132 (1962)
What kind of man are you / Try me one more time ~ CARNIVAL 502 (1962)
As IKE & DEE DEE JOHNSON
You can’t have your cake and eat it too / The drag ~ INNIS 3002 (1964)
As DELORES JOHNSON – LES WATSON & THE PANTHERS
It hurts me so bad ~ COTTONBALL 1001 (1966) (Reverse by LES WATSON & THE PANTHERS)
Note ~ Solo 45s and duets only shown.
Note ~ The two Carnival tracks can be found on the Kent UK CD "A Carnival Of Soul Wishes Vol 3".