Soul Musician Al Johnson Dies at 65

The lead singer of the Unifics was one of the local musicians featured in a photo essay we published in June.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Photograph of Johnson by Eli Meir Kaplan.

Back in June we ran a photo essay looking at some of Washington’s great soul musicians. We’re sad to report that featured artist Al Johnson, lead singer of the Unifics, died earlier this week following complications after surgery. The Newport News native and Howard University graduate found early success with “Court of Love,” recorded by the Unifics and arranged by Donny Hathaway. The song reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and led to a gig at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre with the then-17-year-old Stevie Wonder.

The Unifics reformed in 2004, and Johnson and the band regularly played shows in Washington and Virginia. A memorial service for Johnson will be held today, November 1, at 7 PM at Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast DC. Read more about Johnson and some other local soul musicians here.