Born in Florida, where his father was a bootlegger during prohibition, Johnnie was surrounded by music. His mother, sisters and aunts took him to church and surrounded him with gospel spirituals. But in the summer he'd head out to his grandmother's famous fish fries, where the likes of Tampa Red, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, Lonnie Johnson and others would set up and play while folks ate and danced. “They were my dad's friends,” Bassett recalls. “He would meet them on the road. I didn't know they were gonna be big names 'til I got to be a teenager and we moved to Michigan.