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Murphy Funeral Homes

OBITUARY

Johnny C. Jones Williams "Barba Blanca"

February 26, 1943January 27, 2021

After three years of battling with pulmonary fibrosis caused by his previous chemotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma and second-hand smoke from almost 20 years of his singing and performance career, Johnny C. Jones Williams "Barba Blanca," passed away on January 27, 2021, at the age of 77, at home in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by his family.

Johnny was born on February 26, 1943, in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Central America, to Irma Williams Allen "Baba" (mother and homemaker) and Ernel Jones Mitchell (father and tailor). He was born with a beautiful birthmark of non-pigmented skin on his chin, which later would produce white hair and create his signature look of a half a white beard and a half black beard.

Johnny often sang to his siblings and friends at the family home and to customers and other musicians at his father's tailoring shop where he trained. Johnny showed everyone how to hit pots and pans, rub Fanta Orange bottles with sticks, and shake cans with rocks in them to replicate the sounds of percussion instruments like the guiro, campana, tumbas, and maracas. Johnny would sing several songs and play each makeshift instrument. His talent and stage presence were undeniable.

His professional singing career started on December 24, 1962, when the owner of a band came to look for him at the family home asking for Johnny to substitute since the band's singing headliner was ill and the holiday celebrations needed the show to go on. Johnny accepted the challenge, and while his mother ironed his pants, he got ready and ran to make it to the show. Without rehearsing he performed, and the crowd loved him. Johnny sang and danced with the band until 7 am the next day. That was the day he knew singing and performing were his calling and that his artist name would be Johnny Barba Blanca. While in Puerto Limon, Barba Blanca sang with the Raul Maldonado Orquesta and the Riverside Group. In 1969, he moved to San Jose, Costa Rica, to become a member of the famous La Fabulosa Orquesta de Otto Vargas (Otto Vargas). The six years Barba Blanca performed with Otto Vargas were the most successful for the band. With Barba Blanca, Otto Vargas recorded five long play vinyl records and several single vinyl records/45 rpm. Their hit songs included Sabre Olvidar, Dolores Montes, Suavecito, Caramelo y Chocolate, and Merengue en Nueva York. In 1972, Barba Blanca went on an international tour with Otto Vargas performing at the Teatro Blanquita in Mexico, the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, the Hotel Bradford in Boston, and the Sheraton Hotel in New York. The tour continued with stops in Connecticut, Washington DC, Houston, and in New Orleans, where Johnny performed at the Mardi Gras Carnivals and received the key to the city.

Barba Blanca participated in TV appearances and radio presentations, as well Colgate toothpaste and Pilsen beer commercials staring him, that aired at the Costa Rican movie theaters. At the same time he was performing, he was also working with La Cerveceria Costa Rica (brewery) as a Sales and Marketing Associate during the day.

In 1970 Barba Blanca performed at a dance club in Ojo De Agua, Costa Rica, where he first set eyes on "the most beautiful woman ever seen" and who, a year later, he meets at the Salon Hawaii. After being introduced they agree to chat at the end of the performance that night. Gladys Valderrama Valencia and Barba Blanca dated until October 1974, when they married. Barba Blanca was known for his elegant style of dressing and the couple often wore tailored matching suits.

In 1975, Barba Blanca decided to take a break from performing to spend more time with his family. He was a man of the people and would chat with everyone he encountered. His fans continued to reach out to him, ask him to come back to perform, and in 1976 he received an offer that he could not refuse from El Grupo Mil, an up-and-coming musical group. The group's owner guaranteed Barba Blanca that they would sing and record his written songs. With Barba Blanca as the lead singer, the group rose to fame quickly. The group recorded single vinyl records/45 rpm for three songs with lyrics and music written by Barba Blanca titled Limon Mi Puerto Querido, Espiga De Amapola, and Mar y Cielo. His songs were played all over Costa Rica and Central America. Years later, Barba Blanca also did a few presentations as a soloist at Salon El Mimbral in San Jose, Costa Rica. Despite not being able to read music, Barba Blanca was a musical visionary, and his music and style were ahead of his time. His fans admired him for his voice, flavor, passion, and artistry.

In October of 1978, Gladys and Barba Blanca celebrated the birth of their beautiful and smiley son, Christian, who had a head full of gorgeous black hair. In April of 1980, their lovely, chubby, and serious baby girl, Elizabeth, was born with four hairs on her head. The family opened a restaurant called Pollos Barba Blanca, known for their delicious chicken and patacones with frijoles molidos.

In 1989, Barba Blanca and the family moved to Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. There he worked at various companies. Barba Blanca continued to bring his gorgeous smile and joy to his family, friends, and community. He never stopped delighting his family and loved ones with his voice, musical abilities, and hypnotizing dancing. He has volunteered at special events and completing projects at OAR of Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church since 2005.

Barba Blanca had several famous sayings, including Ayayay, Te voy a dar…sabor, Linda melodia, Que paso, Y el Negro ahi, and Pura Vida. His authentic flare will never be forgotten. The last day he was with us, he was surrounded by so much love, he smiled, made jokes, shared his wishes for all of us, said he was happy and even sang a song he wrote for his children but never recorded titled Mis Hijos.

Barba Blanca is survived by his devoted wife, Gladys Jones, son Christian Jones, daughter Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, son-in-law Anthony Brown, daughter-in-law Carley Pressley, granddaughter Santana Jones, granddaughter Valencia Jones (expected February 2021), his eight siblings Ernesto, Raquel, Irma, Gloria, Henry, Ana, Garry, and Felix, sisters-in-law Berta Alicia, Susy, Ida Luz, Yolanda, and Marcy, brothers-in-law Tariq, Lee Roy, and David, and their families, cousins, and countless family and friends who are just as loved.

Barba Blanca was preceded in death by his mother, Irma, father Ernell, mother-in-law Susana, father-in-law Rodolfo, sisters-in-law Marta and Lois, niece Irma Ana Yancy, and other family and friends who won't be forgotten.

Johnny’s family wishes to express our sincerest gratitude to all the many family and friends that provided meals, played music in his honor, offered solace, sent warm notes and gifts, planted trees and flowers, provided medical care, and helped us find moments of joy. And a special thanks to Tia Bertita, Reyna, Rosalia, Capital Care Hospice, Virginia Hospital Center, and Murphy Funeral Home for caring for him and us.

We look forward to celebrating his life the way he deserves at a later time. In the meantime, be sure to look up in the sky at Johnny Barba Blanca's Super Nova star located at right ascension: 01h03m23.11s and declination: +18°51'11.3” and smile.

In lieu of flowers, please make a gift to the family, if that is within your means. The gifts will be used for services and to honor our beloved's wishes. Gifts may be mailed to Gladys Jones at PO Box 4342, Arlington VA 22204 or through this link www.gofundme.com/johnny-barba-blanca

The family asks that all guests attending the visitation in person adhere to social distancing and respect the family's wishes of following strict COVID-19 protocols of wearing a mask and refraining from physical contact. For these reasons, there will not be a gathering and refreshments following the service. At 3:00 pm, we ask that all guests respectfully make their goodbyes and attend the service at 3:45 pm via Livestream. This Livestream will be accessible after the service is over through an uploaded recording.

Services

  • Visitation

    Saturday, February 6, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

  • Celebration of Life

    Saturday, February 6, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Johnny C. Jones Williams "Barba Blanca"

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Walter Jones

February 10, 2021

Un gran saludo a su familia. Paz a sus restos y que Dios los llene de bendiciones. Amen!!!

Jackie Martin

February 8, 2021

Losing a love one is an ordeal that no one should have to bare alone. Luckily we have a tight knit family to help soften/tolerate the pain. I personally did not know Johnny but I have heard amazing things about him. On all accounts, he was a gentle spirit and a joy to be around. He will truly be missed and will remain in our hearts eternally.

TARIQ THOMAS

February 8, 2021



Farewell, our traveling brother!

With a song in his heart and eyes open wide,
taking advantage of his gifts from above,
Johnny helped us enjoy much of this long ride,
enriching our lives with his music and love.

Merengues in happy times, ballads when sad,
his voice was there in all kinds of weather.
But we most remember the joy that he had;
so, with open hearts, we put hands together
and pay respects to his traveling soul
that imbibed Life’s rhythm which he so freely shared
to help all who listened, both young and old,
feel the music about which he so deeply cared.

But it was family that moved him most of all,
that made lyrical expression ebb and flow,
even when our spirits would rise or fall,
his strong opinion he would let us know.
Yet, there was never a question, not a doubt
that he loved us all in his own special way;
even when unable to be up and about,
his thoughts were on us up to the final day.

So, he’s left us now, boarded a different train,
but the unforgettable presence he’s left behind
is an ever-flowing melodic refrain
that will resonate in our collective heart and mind.

Thus, it is farewell, nary a thought of good-bye,
for Johnny’s time with us was only a loan,
and his memory helps soothe the tear in our eye
as he continues his journey back to Puerto Limón.
Taríq 2021





Marta Gonzalez

February 8, 2021

At the beginning of our friendship in 1998, I was invited to the Jones home by his wife Gladys. There, I enjoyed the warm hospitality of a family, who clearly loved eachother and very closely followed by their love of music. The four of them danced salsa, bolero and merengue with amazing proficiency. Johnny also proudly shared his music and albums of the times he was a headline singer. I learned about his amazing career, as he humbly but proudly displayed photos and recounted charming and entertaining stories. I was fortunate to add this initial memory to countless others, that I share with the Jones family, one of the most memorable times in my life. Descanse en paz, Johnny 🙏

Meibel Pérez

February 7, 2021

Lo siento mucho Cris, mi más sentido pésame, que Dios les de todas las fuerzas necesarias, te quiero mucho amiguito, abrazos a la distancia

Sonia Jones Jiménez

February 7, 2021

Estimada Familia

De parte de la familia Jones Jiménez desde Costa Rica , les enviamos nuestras más sinceras condolencias . Siempre recordaremos a Barba Blanca con muchísimo cariño. Ya descansa en brazos del Señor.
U abrazo fraterno .

Sherril and Adriana James

February 7, 2021

We will miss you.
Adriana and Sherril James(nieces)

Marlon Jones

February 6, 2021

My dear family,
My deepest condolences in these difficult times. So many wonderful good memories of my cousin Johnny-"Barba blanca". I will always remember his wonderful smile and his beautiful energetic spirit. May he Rest in Peace.
With much love, Marlon.

Sophia Broadus

February 6, 2021

Tío Johnny,
Thank you for teaching me how to play the bongos and maracas, for dancing and playing music when we visited you, and for the best patacones in the world.
I will always remember you.
Love,
Sophia

Susy Goldschmidt

February 6, 2021

Les enviamos todo nuestro amor, así como nuestras profundas condolencias para todos y cada uno de los miembros de las familias Jones-Valderrama y Jones-Williams. Los años que compartimos con Johnny fueron un provilegio y los recuerdos los atesoraremos siempre.