Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fairmont State University student Bill Stalnaker presented a keynote address Friday, March 31, at the Delta Blues Symposium XII at Arkansas State University.

Stalnaker presented, "From West Point to West Virginia," the story of Johnnie Johnson's family's migration to West Virginia. Stalnaker is a blues musician and founder of the Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival. Johnson, known by many as the Father of Rock & Roll, was born in Fairmont on July 8, 1924. He went on to become one of the world's leading blues and jazz piano players and is the "Johnnie" in Chuck Berry's song "Johnnie B. Goode." Johnson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Stalnaker and Johnson were close personal friends and worked together on the festival, a radio program called "Father and Sons" and the development of a blues history class at FSU. Johnson died on April 13, 2005. Stalnaker went on to produce a segment for the 2006 Grammy Awards honoring Johnson. He is currently planning the fifth annual Johnnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Festival, which will take place in Fairmont July 21-23.