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 in 1941. 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.
In 1942, McAfee was married to singer Mildred Green.