Johnny Daniels

Hall of Fame Original Florida Highwaymen
Fort Pierce, Florida, A Legend of the Road!

"The History Maker!" "Johnny Lee "Hook" Daniels, A legend of the Road, is an icon on the Highwaymen Heritage Trail, in Fort Pierce, Florida. The legend bridged the 2nd Generation to the Original Highwaymen. Daniels began as a young boy. Born July 22, 1954, he started by making frames for the young group of painters in the mid-1960s and shortly afterward began his lifetime career painting as a teenager. Johnny painted directly after his brother Willie Daniels and today they both are recognized as essential parts of the Highwaymen history. Johnny was the youngest of the group but rank among the top ten in seniority of the early core Originals. The veteran painted authentic Florida over 40 years with the movement and is among the twenty-six Originals inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. His accolades were many when the icon died at the young age of fifty-four.
HONORED TO BE AMERICA’S HISTORY! His work is valued in the ten's of thousands and is part of an exclusive collection of the United States of America, First Historic African American, 44th President Barack Obama. (Courtesy of AJ Brown, Daniels God-Niece)

The life of Johnny Daniels was a historic journey. Decades of teaching was dedicated to many. Daniels is known as the master instructor for being the only Original Highwaymen to bridge both generations by uniquely mentoring five of his closest friends, as 2nd Generation Highwaymen. Johnny’s vision honored the tradition of both, his black art teacher Zanobia Jefferson and prominent white artist A.E. Backus. Backus's influence is reflected in Johnny's paintings. He was also influenced by his friend Livingston "Castro" Roberts and admired the work of Harold Newton and Alfred Hair.

Johnny Daniels the legend, the Highwaymen Heritage Trail, City of Fort Pierce:

As one of the leaders, a milestone was marked in 1970 for the young artists when Alfred Hair was tragically shot and killed at the young age of 29. In mourning of his death some stopped painting, Johnny was one of many who continued to earn his living through painting for over forty years. The legend Johnny Daniels, helped make Highwaymen Art what it is today!

Johnny Lee Daniels Has A 2nd Generation: A man of good character, Johnny Daniels helped many earn a living in the world of art. Daniels instructed twin brother's Jimmy and Johnny Stovall, and Kelvin Hair; thier paintings yields a rewarding income. Daniels opened the Highwaymen Art Gallery, at the Arcade building on US One, and Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce, Florida. Johnny Daniels partnered with Johnny Stovall and Kelvin Hair, and forever established their careers as members of the 2nd Generation through his Original Highwaymen status, and senority.

Johnny left the US One gallery, to open a second gallery at 1725 Okeechobee Road, with his brother Original Hall of Fame Willie Daniels, who at the time was a veteran painter of 40 years. However, they soon severed business ties. Johnny exclusively mentored A J Brown the only female, and made her his last business partner.

A friendship as close as kin, Daniels considered his partner AJ Brown as family. Daniels then taught Richard Edwards, a childhood friend of Kelvin, was the last to receive his teachings.

It is noted, Jimmy Stovall pursues his art career as an Original Highwaymen.
It is noted, by Highwaymen scholar James Gibson, AJ Brown, and Kelvin Hair began to paint simultaneously, during the mid-2000s.
It is noted, 2nd Generation Roy McLendon observed Daniels painting techniques in the Okeechobee Rd Highwaymen Gallery. Daniels, tips and pointers helped make McLendon a confident artist.

Johnny Lee Daniels, generously handed down his heritage for nearly a decade before the unofficial social group would historically unify as an official organization. Just as AE Backus, Harold Newton, and Alfred Hair, their visions were all the same. The icons were well within their rights to leave a legacy that helped make the Highwaymen the legends they are today. Johnny Daniels witnessed his unique group become members of "Florida Highwaymen 2nd Generation."

During the summer of May 2009-2011, the Originals, and the 2nd Generation united for the first time, and formed the first historic 501(c) 3 organization! Florida Highwaymen Artist and History Center Inc., was the name given by James Gibson. Mary Ann Carroll became the first elected female Highwayman president of the group.

Historically, over decades the Highwaymen group formed as the Originals, and the 2nd Generation. Both generations were board members, and attended meetings.

The Originals appointed several members of Johnny's essential group as official officers. Female AJ Brown was officially appointed the first Highwaymen secretary. R.L. Lewis renounced the elected position, delegated to AJ Brown. Brown was also a member of the by-laws committee of four, Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, Jimmy Stovall, and Lillie Knight. Kelvin Hair was the spokesman for the group.

These historic facts marked a significant era in time for when these relevant artists established their painting history, and held appointed official offices. The 2nd Generation members have earned their privileges over years, and were sealed with the ultimate death of an Original elite member, Johnny Daniels.

The Hall of Fame, Original Florida Highwaymen Artist Johnny Lee Daniels died on May 26, 2009, days after both generations officially unified as a 501(c)3. His death was a tragic loss. The year 2019, marked a fifty year service, and documented authentic contributions to Florida's history for the legendary Johnny Lee Daniels.

The summer of 2011, the 2nd 501(c) 3 organization was formed. Under the new leadership, of Carnell "Pete" Smith, and his sister Doretha Hair only the Originals, and selective 2nd Generation members were allowed to attend the new organization meetings. The history of an Original Highwaymen Johnny Daniels was marginalized, and excluded voices of the Johnny Daniels crew, mainly female AJ Brown.

In 2012, Fort Pierce City Hall, and Florida Humanities Council invested thousands of grant funds in the history of the Highwaymen. Created through-out the city was the Highwaymen Heritage Trail, and Fort Pierce Tours. The Highwaymen website was visited from around the world, but would one day be closed by Fort Pierce, City Hall Caletta Scott, family to Doretha Hair. Once again the voice and history of AJ Brown is erased. Highlighted on the monument trails are members of the Johnny Daniels prominent artists, as part of the Highwaymen history by Elizabeth "Libby" Woodruff.

Established in 1973, the "Second Generation Movement" began with family member Roy McLendon Jr. Several members were born during the historic era of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Just as the "Historic Originals" started with friends, and family, the same 1950s tradition is found in the Highwaymen Historic 2nd Generation. Makeshift assembly-line easels, back-yard studio's, and wet paint on Masonite. From the side of the road painting to the trunk of the car sells, all are handed-down traditions. "The 2nd Generation is one group of descendants, legacy, and heritage. "All are hand-picked by the Original Florida Highwaymen, the scholars themselves."
Thank you America, for treating all our generations as worthy!

Johnny Daniels an American pioneer passed on May 26, 2009. He is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Fort Pierce, Florida. Block 1000, Avenue L Section 2-N; among several iconic Highwaymen. AJ Brown was authorized by his beneficiary Ms. Curley Daniels and commissioned by the manager of Cultural Affairs Ms. Jody Bonet to construct his grave-site monument. January 26, 2010, Ms. Daniels named AJ Brown as God family.

It was August 2011, when heirs named AJ Brown legal representative and spokesperson of Daniel's art estate, proceeds benefits heirs. Highwaymen dealers, art councils, the state of Florida, educational institutions, museums, and alike are of course welcome to continue representing the Original Hall of Fame, Florida Highwaymen Johnny Daniels as they had during his respected living years, and for over four decades.

The unique Florida Highwaymen persisted through a segregated era when all odds were against them. Only a mere few may claim the status of honor, the Original or the 2nd Generation Highwaymen.

Thank you, America!


Gallery Art

Johnny Lee Daniels