A documentary film of central importance for our music history –
and the ultimate Great Musical Figure Re-Discovered story:

The Original Guitar Hero
The Power of Music

The Legendary Lonnie Johnson

NOTE: This is a DEMONSTRATION REEL available only for restricted, private viewing for further development of the film project. Copyright arrangements, as legitimately needed, have not been completed for material used here.



From Productions, Really Reilly Pictures & Aaron Job’s No Signal Cinema

DEAN ALGER – “Dr. D” (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA), Lead Director, Writer, Producer, is author of the internationally acclaimed book on which the film is largely based; THE ORIGINAL GUITAR HERO and THE POWER OF MUSIC – The Legendary Lonnie Johnson, Music and Civil Rights. He has also written on music for, the new Grove Dictionary of American Music, has lectured on Lonnie Johnson at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, etc. He has substantial experience working (on screen and off) with commercial and public television and radio as an analyst; and his extensive writings on the media and society (four books and other writings) have received international recognition.

REILLY TILLMAN (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA), Consulting Director and Consulting Producer, is Deputy Director & Education Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project-Minnesota. Reilly produced and directed the award-nominated feature documentary, Madison on Tour, about a world-class competitive drum and bugle corps, which aired on Twin Cities Public Television. Currently he is also working on a documentary on jazz singer Laurel Masse, a founding member of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning vocal group The Manhattan Transfer.

AARON JOB (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA), Videographer-Editor, is finishing his Journalism-Mass Communications degree this fall at the University of Minnesota, with special emphasis on video production. He has done work on various video projects — music videos and journalistic narratives — and has reported for the Minnesota Daily (University of Minnesota) and Minnesota Public Radio.

JOE PRICE, Narrator, is Director of the B.F.A. Actor Training Program for the famous Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, and the University of Minnesota Theater Department; and he has extensive experience in voice-over work.

TROY STENSTROM, Troy Stenstrom Graphic Design, is the webmaster for this special online section for presentation of the “short version of the film.”


Also see “The Original Guitar Hero and The Power of Music” section.

This film is about the Original Guitar Hero, Lonnie Johnson; and it’s about the development of artistry on guitar after Lonnie laid down many of the key foundations, and how, with later artists, The Guitar became the dominant instrument in popular music and a cultural icon.

B.B. King:Lonnie Johnson was the most influential guitarist of the 20th Century.

This film is not just a standard old musician biography. It is the keynote story of how The Guitar became so central to popular music and enabled powerful, evocative musical—and societal—expression. The film begins — and ends — with visually and aurally showing the look, magic, power and expressive capacities of The Guitar, showing and explaining the nature of that singular instrument, and tapping into the millions of people in the US and around the world who have been beguiled by The Guitar and great guitarists. Then the film shows how all that began with the true Founding Father of powerful, virtuoso, expressive guitar work, the legendary Lonnie J, and developed further thereafter.

This is the HOLY GRAIL story of the dominance of The Guitar and how artistry on guitar developed and increasingly wove its magic with later “Guitar Heroes” from Charlie Christian to B.B. King to Chet Atkins to Chuck Berry to Eric Clapton to Jack White.

This may be the most important story in American music history not yet told in film!

Besides that broader musical theme on The Guitar and its impact, there is a sub-theme on music and its effect on race relations.

This is not just an old musician biography; but the film does tell the extraordinary story of Lonnie’s Johnson’s music and key elements of his life, including the roller coaster of his career – despite being one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.

We intend to do video interviews with some great guitarists who were influenced by Lonnie, like Buddy Guy, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Robbie Robertson, Jorma Kaukonen, perhaps even Mark Knopfler (who gave his name to the Lifetime Grammy petition for Lonnie). I have agreements from Taj’s and Robbie’s managers to do interviews. I have an older interview with Buddy on audio tape (Buddy spent 2 full pages raving about Lonnie’s greatness and influence on him in his memoir), and we’ve done an interview with British Blues legend John Mayall (mentor of Eric Clapton). We’re working to get this to Jack White.

Great jazz guitarist Jack Wilkins, who Dr. D audio recorded an interview with in the new Birdland jazz club in Manhattan, is interested in the book and film; we are working to schedule a video interview with him.

Finally and especially if and after we get the Lifetime Grammy for Lonnie, we hope to organize and film a concert or club gig in Tribute to Lonnie J with musicians who supported the Lifetime Grammy for Lonnie like Buddy Guy, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, etc., key portions of which can be the culmination/finale of the film. The club gig could be at Buddy Guy’s LEGENDS, Chicago (“dedicated to all the legends who schooled me”). This will also serve as an ultimate testament to the importance of Lonnie and the guitar; and, with the famous musicians, it will serve as a wonderfully engaging and entertaining magnet for a wide audience for this film.


CONTACT:        612-388-2925       1356 Eustis St. St. Paul, MN 55108

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