Syl Johnson blues and soul singer/songwriter and producer. Born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS, he sang and played with blues artists like Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 1950s, before making his solo debut that same year. He then signed to Twinight Records in the mid-1960s. Beginning with his first hit, "Come On Sock It to Me" in 1967, Johnson dominated the label as both a hit-maker and producer. Like other black songwriters of the period, several of his records at this time explored themes of African American identity and social problems in songs including "Is It Because I'm Black," which became an R&B hit in 1969. He continues to be a distinguished player in the contemporary R&B scene.