The Johnson Boys

Song composer(s)


Grateful Dead Recordings

Not recorded by the Dead

Dead Related Recordings

No Dead related recordings entered

Other Recordings

Instrumental Music Of The Southern Appalachians : Various Artists (Boone Reid) (1956)
Shanty Boys : Shanty Boys (195?)
The Weavers At Home : The Weavers (195?)
New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 3 : New Lost City Ramblers (1961)
Frank Proffitt Sings Folk Songs : Frank Proffitt (1962)
Traditional Music from Grayson and Carroll Counties, Virginia: Songs, Tunes with Fiddle, Banjo and Band : Various Artists (Glen Smith) (1962)
Traditional Music Of Beech Mountain, NC, Vol II : Buna Hicks (1965)
The Flat-Picker's Guitar Guide - An Advanced Instruction Record : Jerry Silverman (1966)
5 String Banjo Greats : David Lindley (196?)
Instrumental Music Of The Southern Appalachians : Various Artists (Boone Reid) (196?)
An Old Time Southern Mountain String Band : Iron Mountain String Band (1973)
Snake Baked A Hoecake : Jody Stecher & Friends (1974)
Clawhammer Banjo, Vol. 3 : Wade Ward (1978)
Comin' Round The Mountain : Henry Vanoy (197?)
Clawhammer Banjo : David Johnson (1983)
Tom Dooley (Frank Profitt, Vol. 1) : Frank Profitt (1988)
J.E. Mainer & The Mountaineers, Vol. 20 Old Time Favorites : J.E. Mainer & The Mountaineers (1988)
Greatest Stars Of Bluegrass : Various Artists (1989)
Music From The Mountain : Iron Mountain String Band (1992)
Masters Of The Banjo : Various Artists (1994)
Banjo Festival : Various Artists (David Lindley) (1997)
Old-Time Banjo Project : John Cohen (19??)
Folk Songs Of Our Land : Flatt & Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys (19??)
Instrumental Music & Songs Of The Southern Appalachians : Eric Darling (19??)
Bluegrass Music From The Southern Appalachians : Various Artists (19??)
The Hillbillies (19??)
Great Original Recordings 1927-28 : The Tenneva Ramblers (19??)
The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2 - 1939 to 1945 : Various Artists (Frank Warner, Pete Seeger & Bess Lomax Hawes) (19??)

Performance History

Played by the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers in San Carlos on June 11th 1962.

Not performed by the Grateful Dead. Occurs only on pre-Dead tapes featuring future members of the dead.


Sometimes occurs as Meet The Johnston Boys or Legend Of The Johnston Boys.

Before this song on the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers tape Garcia says that they stole their songs from the Ramblers who had stolen the songs from the old hill musicians,

The Ramblers (New Lost City Ramblers) source is certainly true for this song. Johnson Boys occurs in a number of variations many making fun of the Johnson boys but in the Ramblers versions they are heroes of the Civil War. The lyrics used by the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers (see below) nearly exactly match those in the New Lost City Ramblers Songbook;

Have you heard of many a story,
Told by young and old with joy,
About the many deeds of daring,
That was done by the Johnson boys.

Hop up pretty girls don't be afraid,
Hop up pretty girls don't be afraid,
Hop up pretty girls don't be afraid,
Hop up pretty girls don't be afraid.

They were lads of skill and courage,
And their sight was very far,
And they joined the country's service,
In that awful civil war.


The Johnson boys were boys of honor,
They knew how to court the maids,
They knew how to hug and kiss them,
Hop up pretty girls don't be afraid.


They were scouts for the rebel army,
And were known far and wide,
When the Yankees saw them coming,
They threw down their guns and hid.