Quincy Jones hired them to play on his LP Mellow Madness, and recorded four of their songs, including "Is It Love That We're Missing?" and "Just a Taste of Me".
After touring with various artists like Bobby Womack and Billy Preston, Quincy Jones hired them for a tour in Japan and produced their debut album Look Out For #1, released in March 1976 (#9 U.S.) Their Right On Time album was released in May 1977 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 200. Blam!! came out in August 1978 and reached number 7 on the Billboard 200.
Two of the duo's songs were featured on the soundtrack of the 1976 film Mother, Jugs & Speed. The instrumental track "Thunder Thumbs and Lightnin' Licks" refers to the brothers' nicknames and is a first-rate piece of funk. "Get the Funk Out Ma Face" was cowritten with Quincy Jones and is another hard-hitting funk romp.
Their popular album Light Up The Night was released in March 1980 and rose to number 5 on the Billboard 200. It was number 46 on the "Top 100 LPs of 1980" list in Rolling Stone Magazine. The subsequent album, Winners, was self-produced by the brothers and released in July 1981, but was less successful, going only as high as number 48 on the Billboard 200.
Among their most popular songs are "I'll Be Good to You" (Billboard Hot 100 #3 in 1976), "Strawberry Letter 23" (Hot 100 #5 in 1977), "Ain't We Funkin' Now" (1978), and "Stomp!" (Hot 100 #7 and Hot Dance Music/Club Play #1 in 1980). Their styles include funk, disco, and R&B ballads. The duo split up in 1982.
They started doing separate ventures; Louis Johnson played bass on Michael Jackson's Thriller and recorded a gospel music album in 1981 with his own group Passage, including his then-wife Valerie Johnson and former Brothers Johnson percussionist/singer, Richard Heath; whilst George Johnson released one single in 1985, titled "Back Against The Wall", on Quincy Jones's own Qwest label. There seems to be a complete recorded but unreleased-album from that recording-session, which George himself confirmed when he and Louis were interviewed around 1987/1988 for the Blues & Soul magazine in the United Kingdom (see link below). Louis recorded a single in 1985 called "Kinky", released on Capitol Records. The track appears on his Evolution album, which was only released in Europe around the same year. Louis then started to register his bass skills on video, and accomplished about 3 instructional lesson-tapes for the Starlicks video-distribution company, from which the first release was also in 1985. He continued this initiative by starting his bass academy during the 1990s and giving workshop clinics to this day, via his own website. George delivered furthermore guitar work for Steve Arrington's album Dancing In The Key Of Life (1985), and ad-libbed vocals on the track "Think Back And Remember" from the Galaxian album by the Jeff Lorber Fusion, released in 1981 on Arista Records.
Leon Sylvers produced their 1984 return LP Out of Control; it did not equal their past success, but got them another R&B hit with "You Keep Me Coming Back". They recorded Kickin' in 1988, and co-wrote "Tomorrow" with Siedah Garrett for Quincy Jones' Back on the Block release. The album-title of the Kickin project was a collaboration with Irene Cara, who was then their neighbor.
In between those two albums, both George and Louis appeared on the Street Shadows album of keyboard-player/arranger David Diggs, who formerly provided horn and string arrangements for albums like Winners, Blast, and the Passage project of Louis. "Last Night", the opening track on that David Diggs album, shows George's versatility to perform on the bass guitar as well. He previously showed his bass skills on tracks like "Teaser" from Winners and "The Great Awaking" from Blast, the same way that Louis shows his guitar skills on various compositions of the sibling duo.
Until recently, the brothers have been doing performances on their own. In 2006, Louis gave a duo-show with a drummer, on the Poetry In Motion 1 Festival, Maryland. In late 2007, George performed with his own band at a Detroit-Festival, including a persona called Sir Nose. George also performs these days with a special band, including Adina Howard, Cherrelle, Ray Parker Jr., and a few more artists, which is an initiative of Michael Henderson.
|Year|| Single ||Chart positions||Album(s)||Label||Additional info|
|US R&B||US Hot 100||US Dance|
|1976|| ||#1||#3||Look Out For # 1||A&M|
|1976|| ||#1||#30||Look Out For # 1||A&M|
|1976|| ||#26||#103||Look Out For # 1||A&M|
|1977|| ||#1||#5||Right On Time||A&M|
|1977|| ||#20||#107||Right On Time||A&M|
|1977|| ||#50||Right On Time||A&M|
|1978|| ||#45||#104||Blam !||A&M|
|1978|| ||#45||#102||Blam !||A&M|
|1980|| ||#1||#7||#1||Light Up The Night||A&M||"Let's Swing" appears only on a b-side|
|1980|| ||#16|| ||A&M|
|1980|| ||#36||#73||Light Up The Night||A&M|
|1981|| ||Passage||A&M||Recorded by the group Passage|
|1982||#13||Blast !||A&M||"Echoes Of An Era" appears only on a b-side|
|1984||#12||#102||#22||Out Of Control||A&M||"Deceiver" appears only on a b-side|
|1985|| ||Unreleased album||Qwest||U.S.-only solo release by George Johnson, under the name of Brother Johnson|
|1985|| ||Evolution||Capitol||U.S.-only solo release by Louis Johnson|
|Hot 200||Top R&B/Hip-Hop|
|1976||Look Out For # 1||A&M||# 9|
|1977||Right On Time||A&M||# 13|
|1978||Blam !||A&M||# 7|
|1978|| Blam ! ||A&M|
|1978|| Blam ! ||A&M|
|1980||Light Up The Night||A&M||# 5|
|1980|| Sweet Thunder ||A&M|
|1981|| Passage ||A&M|
|1982|| Blast ! ||A&M|
|1984||Out Of Control||A&M||# 91||# 20|
|1985|| Evolution ||Capitol|
|2004|| Strawberry Letter 23 : Live ||Cleopatra|