Pee Wee Johnson, George Jones’ Right-Hand Man, Dies
Officially, Bertie "Pee Wee" Johnson was George Jones’ road manager for over a decade, but that hardly describes the two men’s unexpected relationship. Johnson, also known for creating hot chicken in Nashville, died last week at his home in Columbia, Tenn.
The story goes that Johnson -- owner of Pee Wee’s Place in Nashville -- saw that the Possum was in jail in Mississippi and no one was going to bail him out. So he drove to the bank and then to the jail and dropped $50,000 on a man he’d never met. They became lifelong friends. Jones called Johnson “Bubba” and hired him to be his road manager, in addition to a number of other things.
Jones’ widow, Nancy, was listed as an honorary pallbearer for Sunday’s (Oct. 12) funeral. Johnson, an 84-year-old Hilltown native, was an Army veteran who served during the Korean War. Pee Wee’s Place expanded into a nightclub once he started to become known for his hot chicken. The Tennessean reports that Johnson stumbled into the cayenne pepper-covered recipe, one he couldn’t eat himself.
For 25 years, the restaurant stood until it burned in 1990. WSMV reports that the skillet he used all those years was pulled from the ashes and is used today with the original recipe at the Alley Pub in Bellevue.
Johnson leaves behind three children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife, Sara, preceded him in death. He's remembered for his famous recipe, his infectious spirit and his many acts of generosity.