The Chairmen Of The Board (2024)

The Chairmen Of The Board (1)

Not At The Beach

August 15, 2020

The Chairmen of the Board were a group formed in Detroit in 1968 by General Norman Johnson.

The General was born in Norfolk, Virginia, as General Norman Johnson, and, as with many of his contemporaries, honed his vocal skills in the church choir.

At the age of 12 years, he formed his first group, called The Humdingers, which featured: Norman Johnson (lead), Gene 'Cheater' Knight (first tenor), Dorsey 'Chops' Knight (second tenor), Leslie 'Fat Boy' Felton (baritone) and Milton 'Smokes' Wells (bass).

The group released four singles for the Atlantic imprint during 1956.

The Chairmen Of The Board (2)

'It Will Stand' - 1964 / The Showmen - Norman Johnson, Gene Knight, Dorsey Knight, Leslie Felton and Milton Wells

He later formed the Showmen (using the name Norman Johnson), during his senior year in high school, recording the songs 'It Will Stand', (which became a minor hit in 1961), and '39-21-46'. The latter song was actually titled “39-21-40 Shape” but when creating the label, the technician misheard the lyrics.

The Showmen recorded for several labels, including Minit, Lawn, Imperial and Swan Records, and featured: Johnson, Gene Knight, Dorsey Knight, Leslie Felton and Milton Wells.

The Showmen (with Norman Johnson) continued to perform and record up until 1968, when the Chairmen Of The Board came into being.

The group was known as The Gentlemen for a short period around this time.

The original Chairmen Of The Board line-up included Danny Woods (ex: Showmen), Eddie Curtis (ex: Lee Andrews and the Hearts & Huey Smith and the Clowns) and Harrison Kennedy (ex: Stone Soul Children).

The group signed to the Holland/Dozier/Holland imprint, Invictus, and scored immediate success with several charting 45's.

These tunes included:

'Give Me Just A Little More Time' (released in December 1969, UK Top 5, 1970),

'You've Got Me Dangling On A String' (UK Top 5, 1970),

'Everything's Tuesday' (UK Top 20, 1971),

'Pay To The Piper' (UK Top 40, 1971),

'Chairman Of The Board' (UK Top 50, 1971),

'Working On A Building Of Love' (UK Top 20, 1972),

'Elmo James' (UK Top 25, 1972),

'I'm On My Way To A Better Place' (UK Top 30, 1973) and

'Finders Keepers' (UK Top 25, 1973).

The band stopped recording in 1971, which led to a parting of the group.

In 1972, they re-formed and toured throughout the Southeast beach music circuit.

During the group's career, General Johnson penned songs for various artists including Clarence Carter ('Patches', which was originally recorded by the Chairmen), Freda Payne ('Bring the Boys Home'), and Honey Cone, ('Want Ads', 'Stick Up', 'One Monkey Don't Stop No Show').

The Chairmen Of The Board again discontinued as a group in 1976, with the General signing to the Arista label for a couple of solo albums.

In 1978, General Johnson reformed the Chairmen of the Board along with Danny Woods and Ken Knox, becoming a major group on the beach music scene.

In 1980, the latest incarnation of the Chairmen Of The Board founded Surfside Records (based in Charlotte, North Carolina) and issued the album "Success" that contained several beach music classics.

The Chairmen Of The Board (3)
The Chairmen Of The Board (4)

Probably the most famous song is "Carolina Girls." It was written by J.D. Shropshire Jr. (November 14, 1942 – February 24, 2001). During the time the song was written in 1973, he was going to college at a Barber School in Raleigh, N.C. (Neither he nor any of his family members ever received any money from his song.). It was released as a single by Surfside Records and topped the Beach Music chart, although it failed to make the pop chart. The song has persisted over the years to become a part of the North and South Carolina culture and remains a radio and live performance favorite. The song also inspired the book Carolina Girls by Steven Brown.

In an interview with Blues Critic, Danny Woods was asked if Carolina girls really are the best and explains:

Well the song was actually originally written by: J.D. Shropshire Jr. from Forest City, N.C. and when I first came here (The Carolinas) there was no style. You know you had the New York girls, California girls and they all got the attention. Even songs about them. And that just made Carolina girls feel like nothing, but there's quite a difference between Carolina girls now and then. Their self-esteem just magnified after that song.

Ken Knox added:

Girls became prideful. High schools and colleges use that song. Marching bands play "Carolina Girls". It's on T-shirts and we're glad about that. It's the all-time biggest Carolina beach song now.

The group continued to issue albums for the next 30 years. They remained a major draw at beach music shows. On a personal note, I saw them at a club in Augusta, Georgia during Masters Week sometime in the 1980s. It was an awesome show. Here's a list of their most popular songs (in no particular order):

The Chairmen Of The Board (5)



As the Chairmen Of The Board:

Give Me Just A Little More Time (Invictus Records 1969)

In Session (Invictus Records 1970)

Men Are Getting Scarce (Bittersweet) (Invictus Records 1972)

Skin I'm In (Invictus Records 1974)

As General Johnson And The Chairmen Of The Board:

Success (Surfside Records 1980)

A Gift Of Beach Music (Surfside Records 1982)

The Music (Surfside Records 1987)

What Goes Around Comes Around (Surfside Records 1993)

Timeless Volume 1 (Surfside Records 2002)

Timeless Volume 2 (Surfside Records 2003)

Merry Christmas (Surfside Records 2007)

Beach Music Anthology (Surfside Records 2009)

Soul Tapestry (Surfside Records 2010)


General Johnson

Generally Speaking (Invictus Records 1972)

General Johnson (Arista Records 1976)

Harrison Kennedy

Hypnotic Music (Invictus Records 1972)

Danny Woods

Aries (Invictus Records 1972)

General Johnson's obituary from the NYT:

General Johnson, Singer and Writer of Hit R&B Songs, Dies at 69

  • Oct. 15, 2010

General Johnson, who provided the distinctive lead vocal for the Chairmen of the Board’s 1970 Top 10 hit, “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” and went on to become a successful rhythm-and-blues songwriter, died Wednesday in suburban Atlanta. He was 69 and lived in East Point, Ga.

His death was announced on the group’s official Web site, The cause was complications of lung cancer, his family said.

Mr. Johnson, whose first name really was General, was best known as a singer but won a Grammy in 1971 for his composition “Patches,” a Top 10 hit for Clarence Carter. He also wrote hits for the Honey Cone (“Want Ads,” “Stick-Up”) and Freda Payne (“Bring the Boys Home”).

He first reached the pop charts in 1961 as the lead singer of the Showmen, whose song “It Will Stand,” which he wrote, was a defiant ode to the power of rock ’n’ roll:

Some folks don’t understand itThat’s why they don’t demand itThey’re out tryin’ to ruinForgive them for they know not what they’re doin’.

He moved to Detroit in 1969 to become a member of the Chairmen of the Board, a group being formed by the songwriters and producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, who had recently left Motown to form their own label, Invictus.The group’s first single, “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” reached No. 3 on the Billboard singles chart, largely on the strength of Mr. Johnson’s plaintive, boisterous vocal. But after a few more hits, the group broke up.

Mr. Johnson had limited success as a solo artist, and the Chairmen of the Board eventually reunited and found an enthusiastic audience in the South, especially in beachfront communities in North Carolina, where the upbeat brand of rhythm and blues for which the group is known is commonly referred to as beach music.

General Norman Johnson was born in Norfolk, Va., on May 23, 1941, and began singing in church as a young boy. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Julia; two sons, Norman and Antonio; a daughter, Sonya Johnson Payne; his sister, Barbara Lathers; and five grandchildren.

The Chairmen Of The Board (2024)


Who are the chairmen of the board featuring Ken Knox? ›

The Chairmen of the Board (General Johnson, Danny Woods and Ken Knox) were inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 1999. General Johnson continued to perform with Woods and Knox as the "Chairmen of the Board" until his death from lung cancer in 2010.

Who was lead singer of Chairman of the Board? ›

Image of Who was lead singer of Chairman of the Board?
General Norman Johnson was an American R&B singer, frontman of the Chairmen of the Board, songwriter, and record producer. He usually performed as General Johnson, although sometimes he was billed as Norman Johnson.

Who was the chairman of the board line up? ›

His original band line-up included Danny Woods (ex: Showmen), Eddie Curtis (ex: Lee Andrews and the Hearts & Huey Smith and the Clowns) and (the Canadian born) Harrison Kennedy (ex: Stone Soul Children) (who were later joined by Ken Knox and Jackie Myers).

What was the first hit of the chairman of the board? ›

Originally, the group was called the Gentlemen, but they quickly changed their name to the Chairmen of the Board. The Chairmen of the Board's first single, "Give Me Just a Little More Time," was an instant hit, reaching number three on the pop charts and number eight R&B in early 1970, putting Invictus on the map.

Who were the original members of Chairmen of the Board? ›

Johnson, Custis, Woods, Kennedy and Knox were proficient with several musical instruments, they sang, and were lyricists. In 1968 they formed the ensemble initially called the Gentlemen which would eventually become the Chairmen of the Board.

Did they call Frank Sinatra Chairman of the Board? ›

They called Sinatra “Chairman of the Board”. That sobriquet was more than a joking recognition that Frank was primus inter pares. Though it is not generally known, the title originated from the fact that Sinatra was Chairman of the Board of Reprise Records, a company he founded as his own record label.

Was Frank Sinatra known as the chairman of the board? ›

Frank Sinatra is best known as an actor and singer, but his work as a producer saw him quickly become known as the Chairman of the Board. The nickname bled into his entertainment career without many questions asked about where the bizarre moniker came from.

Where does Chairman of the Board come from? ›

However, as the head of the household, the landowner would sit in a chair at the head. This is where we get the term “Chairman of the Board.” Today, it signifies the head of a board of directors at a company, but the term has been passed down from this tradition.

What is higher than chairman? ›

The chairman is typically the head of the board of directors, while the CEO is the highest-ranking executive in the company. The chairman is responsible for overseeing the overall direction and strategy of the company, while the CEO is responsible for the day-to-day management and operations.

Who is higher chairman or president? ›

Since a chairperson has a more senior-level role compared to that of a president, they may have a higher salary. According to the BLS, top executives are among the highest-paid employees in the country. Therefore, you can expect a lucrative salary, whether you're a chairperson or president.

Who is below a chairman? ›

Meaning of vice chairman in English

the person directly below the chairman: The media tycoon's wife was named vice chairman at a shareholders' meeting. He was a former vice chairman for international affairs at the New York investment bank Goldman Sachs Group.

How powerful is the chairman of the board? ›

The chair of the board is voted into his or her position by a majority vote within the board of directors. Because the position has substantial interaction and influence with both the board and management, the chair is arguably the most powerful position in the company.

Can the board fire the Chairman? ›

A company's board of directors can fire a chairman.

It's actually the board of directors who selects a company's CEO and chairman. So, truly, the board of directors has more power than any individual within the company, which in theory is supposed to keep consensus and order.

Why is it called Chairman of the Board? ›

These days, it's more common still to simply call her (or him) a chair. The word chairman comes from a sense of "occupying a chair of authority," while "presiding member of a corporate body" first emerged in the 18th century.


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