Guyana: Music legend, Johnny Braff, dies at 82 + articles and videos

The Legend: Johnny Braff at his 82nd birthday celebrations

Braff. 82, was a resident of the institution for several months after being transferred from the Night Shelter, a decision that he often times didn’t seem too pleased about.

‘STOP THE MUSIC…IT BURNS INSIDE…’     

If you don’t know those lines, if you don’t know that song, you would’ve missed out on one of the big hits of the 60’s and early 70s, when Braff was belting out love songs that made him both a household name and symbol in his homeland and abroad.         

Braff shot to fame in the late 1960’s and 1970’s when he opened local shows for American artistes, on many occasions outshining the main act.

He recorded several hit songs locally and had them redone in the United States and Curacao, where they became more popular.

“It burns inside”, which begins with the catch phrase “Stop the Music, it burns inside”, was Braff’s most popular song as he sang about holding on to love and never letting it go.

Johnny Braff

His real name was Johnny Critchlow, and he was born on July 3, 1937- the second to last of 14 children, living in Station Street, Kitty. But the large family was never in danger of starving.

From an early age, young Johnny showed an interest in music- entertaining and annoying his family by blowing on a comb wrapped in paper.

One of his first jobs was at the famous Tang’s Bakery, but he learned plumbing as a trade at Barry Massay in Queenstown.
He eventually became an A-class plumber, working in Mackenzie, Region10, for a number of years.

He got in the habit of singing at his workplace and hadn’t it been for a challenge from a colleague, the world might never have heard about ‘Johnny Braff.’

At around 19 years of age, he went on to form a singing group called ‘The Heartbreakers’ with local musicians Michael Bacchus, Dennis Coxwell, Cecil Whitehead, and Compton Edwards.

It was while performing at the Carib Hotel that the Guyanese group out-danced the legendary American singer Chubby Checker, who had popularized the dance known as ‘the twist.‘

That event made the headlines in the dailies. By then, the group was earning about $30.00 for each performance.

His big break came during a performance to a packed audience at the Astor Cinema. It was then that he first performed his compositions ‘It Burns Inside,’ and ‘A Shower of Tears,’ two of his first major hits.

In that audience was local businessman and producer Vivian Lee.
Lee was so impressed that he met with him afterwards and suggested that Critchlow record his two songs.

He would subsequently record ‘It Burns Inside’ at Radio Demerara, before re-recording it in the US.

A few of his other hits, including ‘A Shower of Tears’, ‘Same Time Same Place and ‘Anything You can Do’ were recorded in the US and in Curacao.

At the peak of his career, the songs of the now-rechristened Johnny Braff were played almost daily on the radio.

Braff signed a contract with Vivian Lee, which allowed him to perform in America.
He also sang with Percy Sledge in Barbados.

Sadly, a scheduled tour with legendary soul singer Otis Redding never came off after the American and his band died in a plane crash.

Johnny Braff then signed a six-year contract to sing on a Yugoslavian cruise ship, earning US$5,000 a month.

Of course, there were his female fans. At the peak of his fame, Johnny Braff claims to have fathered at least 27 children in at least 10 countries.

Braff has received several awards for his contribution to music, including the Guyana Folk Festival 2002 Wordsworth McAndrew Award.

In July, Braff celebrated his 82nd birthday and was feted by the Ministry of Social Protection at a special concert held in his honour. Back in May of this year, he was awarded a national award, the Medal of Service, by President David Granger.

ARTICLES ON JOHNNY BRAFF in Guyanese Online

At Johnny Braff’s 81st birthday last Tuesday evening – Freddie Kissoon

At Johnny Braff’s 81st birthday last Tuesday evening  Jul 05, 2018  Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon When I was studying in Canada, I went to see a live performance at Hamilton Place of a crooner whose voice enthralled me when I was a little teenager.

Guyana’s Johnny Braff and Aznavour’s hit song + videos

Johnny Braff and Aznavour’s hit song DECEMBER 6, 2015 | BY KNEWS | COLUMNISTS, FREDDIE KISSOON For sure young Guyanese would not know who Charles Aznavour is. I doubt whether many Guyanese, of whatever age, would be familiar with Charles Aznavour.

Remembering Johnny Braff – interview + videos

Remembering Johnny Braff MARCH 10, 2014 | BY KNEWS | By Michael Jordan ” I played songs that people could listen to; when you hear songs like that, they go straight to your heart and you have to stop what you are doing and sing..” ‘STOP THE MUSIC…IT BURNS INSIDE…’ If you don’t know those lines, if […]

Johnny Braff – It burns inside – music video

Johnny Braff – It burns inside Johnny Braff was a music icon in the 1960’s.  This song was tops in and around 1965… Some of you older folk would remember those Maltenous Sunday Picnics… .. May 10, 1992 — Here is  Johnny Braff singing at the MOTHER’S DAY CARIBBEAN SHOW @ THE PARAMOUNT THEATER, NEW YORK CITY… […]

Johnny Braff – video

May 10, 1992 — Here is  Johnny Braff singing at the MOTHER’S DAY CARIBBEAN SHOW @ THE PARAMOUNT THEATER, NEW YORK CITY…  here he is accompanied by PELHAM GODDARD and CHARLIE’S ROOTS… Johnny Braff – a national of GUYANA, was one of the most popular singers in his era …..  here he sings “It Burns Inside”.  It […]

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Comments

  • michael hawkins  On 08/29/2019 at 4:33 am

    RIP Brother

    guyaneseonline posted: ” Aug 29, 2019 News A musical sensation and pioneer to the music industry in Guyana, Johnny Braff, died yesterday morning around 04:00 hrs at the Palms Geriatric Home. Braff. 82, was a resident of the institution for several months after”

  • wally n  On 08/29/2019 at 11:01 am

    As a kid Michael Bacchus was one of our ” gang” Fourth and Albert Street, he had a great voice, played bass guitar, appeared on live shows, on Radio, then all of a sudden, boom , he is with big star Johnny Braff.
    We did events with Johnny Braff, in Toronto, all sell out shows, also released his updated LP, talking about before his time. Today he would have made millions, he was that good. Very sad, another talented Guyanese, gone. Really glad I had a chance to meet him. R I P

    • tony swamy  On 08/29/2019 at 11:18 pm

      I lived in D’anrade St,Newtown and knew Michael Bacchus.and Braff,Cecil Whitehead.et al..Those guys had some harmonies.RIP Mr.Braff..

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 08/29/2019 at 1:46 pm

    Johnny Braff’s “It burns inside” lives on in my teenage memories.

  • needybad4u/Leonard Dabydeen  On 08/29/2019 at 11:04 pm

    RIP Johnny B. ‘It burns inside’ will always be with us from the 60’s. God Bless!!

  • dhanpaul narine  On 08/30/2019 at 12:28 am

    He will be missed, he was one of a kind that brought music to the masses.

  • wally n  On 08/31/2019 at 1:24 pm

    and then….R I P
    Victor Shim-Chim Obituary
    Here is Victor Shim-Chim’s obituary. Please accept Everhere’s sincere condolences.

    It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of Victor Shim-Chim (Markham, Ontario), who passed away on August 23, 2019, at the age of 67, leaving to mourn family and friends. You can send your sympathy in the guestbook provided and share it with the family. You may also light a candle in honor of Victor Shim-Chim or send a beautiful flower arrangement to the funeral service.

    Visitation will be held on Thursday, August 29th 2019 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Chapel Ridge Funeral Home (8911 Woodbine Ave, Markham, ON). A funeral service will be held on Friday, August 30th 2019 at 10:00 AM at the St Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church (2210 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough, ON).

    knew all these guys wayyyy back, then I remembered have hundreds of hours of video tapes [commercial] including my favorite Pamela Maynard must must get them converted…

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