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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Rock pioneer Johnson dies aged 80
Johnnie Johnson
The pianist was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001
Rock 'n' roll pioneer Johnnie Johnson, who inspired the Chuck Berry hit Johnny B Goode, has died at the age of 80.

Johnson, who collaborated with Berry on hits including Roll Over Beethoven and No Particular Place to Go, died at his St Louis home on Wednesday.

The cause of death was not immediately known, his publicist Margo Lewis said.

Berry said he would perform a concert in Johnson's honour, paying tribute to "the man with a dynamite right hand... the greatest piano player I ever had."

Johnnie Johnson (l) with Chuck Berry
Johnson (left) sued Chuck Berry over copyright issues in 2000

Born in West Virginia, Johnson began playing piano at the age of four. After a stint playing jazz and blues in Chicago, he moved to St Louis in the early 1950s where he formed the Johnnie Johnson Trio.

When a band member became ill on New Year's Eve 1952, it was Johnson who gave Chuck Berry his first paid gig.

The pair worked together until the 1970s, with pianist Johnson composing the tunes to some of Berry's best-loved songs.

Legal action

However in 2000, Johnson sued Berry seeking a share of the royalties to more than 50 songs he alleged they had composed together.

The legal action claimed Berry had taken advantage of Johnson's alcoholism and misled the pianist over copyright issues.

A judge dismissed the case two years later, ruling that too many years had passed since the disputed songs were written.

After he parted ways with Berry, Johnson performed with legendary musicians including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Bo Diddley.

"It was so much fun to play with Johnnie," Diddley said. "The world has lost a great man and a great musician."

The pianist is survived by his wife, 10 children and several grandchildren.

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