Johnny McAfee

Photo of Johnny McAfee

Multi-instrumentalist Johnny McAfee typically played alto saxophone, though he also was proficient on clarinet and flute. McAfee could sing as well, which he did for a several orchestras during the big band era. Born in Dallas, Texas, McAfee attended Baylor University and worked with Johnny Hamp in 1936, Leighton Noble in 1937 and 1938, and Eddie Duchin in 1939 and 1940 before joining Tony Pastor by September 1940. He left Pastor in early 1942 for a very brief stay with Benny Goodman, where he didn’t vocalize, before settling in with Harry James in July. There he reached his peak in popularity, singing on several hit songs and earning ninth place in Billboard magazine’s 1943 annual college poll for male band vocalists.

McAfee got caught in the draft in late 1943, spending time in Buddy Morrow’s navy band at Hunter College. When he returned from the service, he joined Morrow’s civilian orchestra, where he was in March 1946, but by June of that year he was with Charlie Barnet. In early 1948, McAfee was part of Horace Heidt’s band. He then vanishes from the records until 1963, when he was found working nights with Vincent Lopez’s orchestra at the Taft Grill while driving a cab during the day.

McAfee was the grandfather of singer Fiona Apple. In 1937, McAfee married vocalist Millicent Green, misidentified as Mildred Green in one Down Beat article, whom he met while with Hamp’s orchestra. They divorced in 1947. Their daughter, Diane, the mother of Apple, was also a singer.


  1. “Millicent Green.” Internet Broadway Database. Accessed 25 Apr. 2023.
  2. “New Acts Band Reviews.” Billboard 24 Oct. 1936: 20.
  3. “Bright Spots After Dark.” The Pittsburgh Press 15 Apr. 1938: 25.
  4. Sheer, Harry. “Recorded Music.” The Pittsburgh Press 17 Sep. 1938: 20.
  5. “Lewis' 23Gs Tops.” Billboard 10 Feb. 1940: 58.
  6. “On the Stage.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 20 Jan. 1940: 10.
  7. “Vaudeville Reviews: Paramount, New York.” Billboard 8 Mar. 1941: 22.
  8. “Vaudeville Reviews: Loew's Capitol, Washington.” Billboard 16 Aug. 1941: 23.
  9. “On the Stage.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 Oct. 1941: n.pag.
  10. “Tony Pastor.” Billboard 17 Jan. 1942: 4.
  11. “Tony Pastor Socko in Maria Kramer's New Spot.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1942: 4.
  12. “Schertzer Back with B.G.” Billboard 18 Jul. 1942: 21.
  13. “Harry James Takes McAfee.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1942: 6.
  14. “Profiling the Players: Harry James and His Orchestra.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1942: 20.
  15. “Students Select Singers.” Billboard 5 Jun. 1943: 20.
  16. “Martins and the James' Settle Baseball Feud.” Down Beat 1 Oct. 1943: 7.
  17. “Morrow Band Better With New Faces.” Down Beat 8 Apr. 1946: 14.
  18. “On the Stand: Charlie Barnet.” Billboard 6 Jul. 1946: 37.
  19. “Barnet Blasts B'way Aquarium.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1946: 1.
  20. “Trade Tattle.” Down Beat 10 Mar. 1948: 22.
  21. Winchell, Walter. “Dirty Business with Dividends.” The Spartansburg Herald 3 Jan. 1963: n. pag.