I'll Be Good To You

Album: Look Out For #1 (1976)
Charted: 3
Play Video


  • Brothers Johnson guitarist George Johnson wrote this song after deciding to dedicate himself to one girl instead of playing the field. He explained in The Billboard Book of #1 Rhythm & Blues Hits: "At the time I was seeing three young ladies. It got to the point where things were a little hectic, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. I did the whole scenario of hopping from here to there and it got a little rough on me. I decided to write a song called 'I'll Be Good To You.' It was a commitment I decided to make for myself to one lady in particular - the lady that I wound up marrying, Debbie Johnson. I wrote it for her."
  • This was the first single from the first Brothers Johnson album, Look Out For #1. The brothers - guitarist George and bass player Louis - made a name for themselves playing on sessions for the likes of Bill Withers and Billy Preston. They got the attention of Quincy Jones, who brought them on tour and put them to work on his 1975 album Mellow Madness. Jones became their producer and helped them parse the hundreds of songs they had written down to nine for the album. "I'll Be Good To You" was their launching pad; the song was a big hit and earned them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist (they lost to Starland Vocal Band). The album went Platinum, as did their next three, which were also produced by Jones.
  • Most Brothers Johnson songs have lead vocals by Louis, but George sang lead on this one. He never considered himself a vocalist, but Quincy Jones drew that out of him; George sang on Jones' Mellow Madness track "Is It Love That We're Missing?"
  • A friend of the band named Sonora Sam got a writing credit on this song along with George and Louis Johnson. She was at their house when they were working on the song and came up with the line, "The way we stand and the way we lie."
  • In 1989, Quincy Jones was working on his album Back On The Block, and decided to re-record this song with Chaka Khan. During the session, Jones' friend Ray Charles called Quincy and asked him to contribute vocals. The song was credited to "Quincy Jones featuring Ray Charles and Chaka Khan," and hit #21 in the UK and #18 in the US, where it also hit the top of the R&B charts for two weeks. It went on to win the 1990 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and the album Back On The Block won the 1990 Grammy for Album Of The Year.

Comments: 4

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyLouis Johnson, bass player of the Brothers Johnson, died May 21st, 2015 at the age of 60.
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 25th 1976 "I'll Be Good To You" by the Brothers Johnson entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #88; and on July 4th it peaked at #3 (for 3 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 17 weeks it was on the Top 10)
    And on June 6th it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1976 and 1981 they had only six records make the Top 100, but three of them reached the Top 10 (the other two were "Strawberry Letter 23" at #5 in 1977 and "Stomp!" at #7 in 1980).
  • Mark from Albany, NyThis was one of the best songs of all times, Quincy Jones is an amazing producer and the Brothers Johnson (yes they ARE real brothers) are very talented. Great memories with this one.....
  • Charles from Glenside, PaI'm glad to learn that there really were a couple siblings named Johnson involved here. I at one point wondered if the name of this group was actually the 'The Brother's Johnson', with the noun 'brother' being possessive, not plural! Hope I haven't dragged down the quality of discussion here too much.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Krishna Das

Krishna DasSongwriter Interviews

The top chant artist in the Western world, Krishna Das talks about how these Hindu mantras compare to Christian worship songs.

Bass Player Scott Edwards

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

Band Names

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?

Zakk Wylde

Zakk WyldeSongwriter Interviews

When he was playing Ozzfest with Black Label Society, a kid told Zakk he was the best Ozzy guitarist - Zakk had to correct him.

Bob Dylan Lyric Quiz

Bob Dylan Lyric QuizMusic Quiz

Think you know your Bob Dylan lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular Music

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.