“We met in the theater at Memphis State, and we would up having similar musical interests. For the longest time, we were just friends. We went out to LA just friends, all on the up-and-up, renting the same house, staying in different rooms, completely platonic. When Thanksgiving came that year, she went off to San Francisco to spend the weekend with a friend, and I was stuck back in LA. I didn’t sleep. When I got to San Francisco, I found out she hadn’t been sleeping very well either, so we said, ‘Golly, maybe we better look into this situation.’ We were 27 and 28 when we got married, and we were married for 41 years and 4 months. She died on Easter Sunday of 2012. You don’t get over something like that.
“I’ve only written one song for her. I tried several times. She was not musical, but she had a very, very keen musical ear and she could tell if it was good enough. I’d write her a song, and there would be all be the obligatory, ‘Oh, you sweet thing. Kiss kiss kiss, hug hug hug’ and I’d sing it for about a week. Then I’d finally turn to her, and I’d say, ‘Donna, this thing is really not that good is it?’ She’d say, ‘No, not really.’ I was trying to do all that sappy, sentimental stuff. But there’s one I’ve written since she passed, called 'Cactozo Dot Bunny', that I’m gonna make a single out of. It’s set in New Orleans, and it’s about the rowdy side of the whole situation. It’s about her dancing. There’s one part in there that’s really something. Let’s just say, Bourbon Street wasn’t the main show. The Quarter was lit, lit up for Cactozo, which was one of her nicknames.
“I started writing songs when I was just out of college. They weren’t very good, but after Donna died, I just hit this burst of songwriting that’s still going on. I’ve written about 70 since then. I’m very proud of my tribute songs to Memphis Minnie, Furry Lewis, Bukka White, and a whole bunch of others. I’ve written mountain music, blues, all kinds. I guess maybe my favorite serious song, romantic song, is ‘Simone.’ She and I were kind of close for a minute or two. Didn’t last very long, knew it wasn’t going to, because she’s way younger than I am. I’ve got quite a few about women. I fear commitment though; I’ll probably never marry again, but the truth is, I simply cannot survive without female company. I can’t, you know, and it can be casual, it can be completely platonic, or it can be intensely romantic. Women have appeal. I can’t deny that. I ain’t ready to sit down and play checkers for the rest of my life. I ain’t ready for that yet.”
YouTube: Zeke Johnson performs both blues classics and originals. Here are a few selections:Zeke Johnson
FB: Zeke Johnson
FB: The Old Goat's Music
FB: Zeke's Three Generation Jug Rascals
Zeke Johnson: Memphis Blues Society Feature Story... (article, 2014)
An Exclusive Interview with Zeke Johnson (article, 2015)