Johnnie Earl Hightower was born May 2, 1941, to the late Nick Hightower, Jr. and Susie Cook Hightower, in Folkston, Georgia.
At the early age of 4 years old, Johhnie was placed on top of the church piano during services and would sing hymns. This would become the start of his singing career.
During the 50s & 60s, Johnnie's father, Reverend Nick Hightower Jr. got his sons together to form a gospel singing group. They sang in numerous churches and gospel concerts/events. As years went on, the singing brothers were known as the Hightower Brothers.
The family lived in numerous places but eventually settled in Newark, NJ. He went to Central High School and then from there became a fulltime Gospel entertainer. Johnnie enjoyed reminiscing with his children about the stories of singing with some of the greats like Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, and his dear friend Sam Cooke; to name a few. He even had a fun story on how once he and his brothers were practicing in a church, and they heard a group of young boys giggling in the back. Those giggling boys grew up to become "The Jackson 5"!
Fast forward to the year 1965, September 4th to be exact, he married the Love of his LIFE, Ernestine Bush. Their equally yolked union was for 54 1/2 years. Together they had 2 children, Shawn Hightower and Sonji Hightower the eldest.
He worked for the Star-Ledger for 28 years before retiring in 2003. During the 80s he formed his first band "Electric Connection". Then in the 90s, he was one of the lead singers along with childhood friend Charles Johnson, of "Rapture, featuring Johnson & Hightower".
Johnnie was a devoted husband, father, and friend. He was a born again Christian, a true believer in Christ and was deeply respected from all.
Johnnie was predeceased by his beloved son Shawn, brothers Mario Rico, Robert Lee, Willie and dear sister Lillian Pearl.
The life of Johnnie and his spirit and values will continue to sojourn in all the lives he touched and loved: his loving wife, Ernestine, his daughter Sonji, in spirit his son Shawn, his grandsons, Lamar and Martin Jr, His dear sisters Susie Tucker, Sheila, Gloria, and Shalga Hightower. His brother-in-laws Forest Tucker, Jerome Bush, his sister-in-laws Teresa Bush, Sylvia Raye, Karen Bush and in spirit mother and father-in-law Rowena and Cory Bush, Albert, Howard, Catherine Bush, and Jacqueline Gaddy; and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.
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