Drummer and actor Bernard “Bunchy” Johnson, died of a heart attack March 21. He was 58.
Johnson, a native of New Orleans, had just finished filming scenes for David Simon’s new HBO series, “Treme,” which was shot in his childhood neighborhood.
Nicknamed “Bunchy” because of his size, Johnson’s feature acting credits included “Monster’s Ball,” “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” and “Love Song for Bobby Long.” On TV, he appeared in Fox’s “K-Ville.”
He also appeared in Off Broadway’s “Staggerlee.”
During his 40-year musical career, Johnson played with numerous New Orleans acts and toured with R&B singers including Johnnie Taylor, Billy Preston and Will Porter. He recently finished recording tracks for the Porter’s debut album and was working with musicians including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and Leroy Jones.
Right up until his death he played with Jeremy Davenport at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune. As a member of the “Joints Jumpin'” revue he appeared at Harrahs Casino at the Big Easy.
A series of traditional memorials are planned for Johnson, a favorite musician of the New Orleans scene.