At Hotel2Tango Studio in Montreal (left) with Howard Bilerman (right)
|Born||May 14, 1932|
Hillsboro, Texas, US
|Died||August 14, 2015 83) (aged|
Nashville, Tennessee, US
|Genres||Rock, folk, folk rock, blues, country, gospel|
|Associated acts||Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel|
Donald William 'Bob' Johnston[ citation needed ] (May 14, 1932 – August 14, 2015) was an American record producer, best known for his work with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Johnston was born into a professional musical family. His grandmother Mamie Jo Adams was a songwriter, as was his mother Diane Johnston.Diane had written songs for Gene Autry in the '50s and scored a hit in 1976 when Asleep at the Wheel covered her 1950 demo "Miles and Miles of Texas". After a stint in the Navy, Bob returned to Fort Worth, then he and Diane Johnston collaborated on songwriting for rockabilly artist Mac Curtis, and others. From 1956 to 1961 Bob recorded a few rockabilly singles under the name Don Johnston. By 1964 he had moved into production work at Kapp Records in New York, freelance arranging for Dot Records and signed as a songwriter to music publisher Hill and Range. He also married songwriter Joy Byers with whom he began to collaborate.
In later years Bob Johnston claimed that songs still credited to his wife Joy Byers were actually co-written, or solely written by himself.He has cited old "contractual reasons" for this situation. The songs in question include Timi Yuro's 1962 hit "What's A Matter Baby", plus at least 16 songs for Elvis Presley's films between 1964 and 1968, including "It Hurts Me", "Let Yourself Go" and "Stop, Look and Listen". Two songs credited to Byers, the aforementioned "Stop, Look and Listen" and "Yeah, She's Evil!" were recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets (the latter song was titled "The Meanest Girl in Town" when Presley recorded it). Presley recorded "The Meanest Girl in Town" on June 10, 1964, while Bill Haley recorded his version a week later, on June 16, 1964.
Johnston worked briefly as a staff producer for Kapp Records, then for Columbia Records in New York, where he began producing a string of notable and highly influential albums (see list below). He was already producing Patti Page when in 1965 he was successful in gaining the assignment to produce Bob Dylan,followed by Simon & Garfunkel, the Pozo-Seco Singers, Johnny Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, and then Leonard Cohen. His style of production varied from a 'documentary' approach capturing a fleeting moment (exemplified by Dylan's albums and Cash's live albums) to providing subtle arrangements with strings, background vocals and seasoned session musicians (exemplified by Cohen's studio albums).
After a couple of years in New York, Johnston became head of Columbia in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had known many of the session musicians, such as Charlie Daniels, for years.He produced three of Cohen's albums, toured with him and also composed music to the Cohen lyric "Come Spend the Morning", recorded by both Lee Hazlewood and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Bob Johnston was very sophisticated. His hospitality was extremely refined. It wasn't just a matter of turning on the machines. He created an atmosphere in the studio that really invited you to do your best, stretch out, do another take, an atmosphere that was free from judgment, free from criticism, full of invitation, full of affirmation. Just the way he'd move while you were singing: He'd dance for you. So, it wasn't all just as laissezfaire as that. Just as art is the concealment of art, laissezfaire is the concealment of tremendous generosity that he was sponsoring in the studio.— Leonard Cohen quoted in The Stranger Music of Leonard Cohen by William Ruhlmann, Goldmine
At the beginning of "To Be Alone with You" on Nashville Skyline , Bob Dylan asks Johnston "Is it rolling, Bob?"
Dissatisfied with his salary earnings as a Columbia staff producer, particularly after several hit albums which earned him no royalties, Johnston became an independent producer, most successfully with Lindisfarne on Fog on the Tyne , which topped the British album chart in 1972.
In 1972 he toured with Leonard Cohen as a keyboard player, and produced the resulting live album Live Songs .
In 1978 he produced Jimmy Cliff's Give Thankx album, featuring "Bongo Man". In 1979, Johnston produced an album with the San Francisco band Reggae Jackson, titled Smash Hits that featured Jimmy Foot, Cheryl Lynn, Kenneth Nash, and Wayne Bidgell (the low voice heard on Jimmy Cliff's "Bongo Man" track).
In 1985, Johnston produced an album Walking In The Shadow by the San Francisco band The Rhyth-O-Matics, for engineer Fred Catero's newly formed Catero label. Billboard magazine's "Pop Pick of The Week", the album's release was plagued with distribution difficulties.
During a period of financial difficulty, when he was under scrutiny from the IRS, Johnston moved to Austin, Texas, and did no record production for some time. He eventually returned with work on Willie Nelson's 1992 album The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories? (Nelson had his own financial difficulties at the time).
In the mid 1990s, Johnston produced Carl Perkins' album Go Cat Go! which featured numerous guest stars including Paul Simon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, as well as unreleased recordings of Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" by John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. This album's release was delayed until 1996.
Towards the end of his life Johnston returned to working with fresh talent including singer-songwriters Natalie Pinkis (USA), Eron Falbo (Brazil),and indie rock band Friday's Child (USA). Falbo's album 73 was released in 2013. The final project Johnston worked on was Evolution: Live at the Saxon Pub which he co-produced for Austin band Hector Ward and The Big Time in 2015, which was released in 2016.
Johnston was in a memory facility and a hospice in Nashville for the last week of his life before dying on August 14, 2015.His wife Joyce Johnston (née Byers) died in May 2017.
Carl Lee Perkins was an American singer-songwriter who recorded most notably at the Sun Studio, in Memphis, beginning in 1954. Amongst his best-known songs are "Blue Suede Shoes", "Matchbox" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby".
James Edward Burton is an American guitarist. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2001, Burton has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Critic Mark Demming writes that "Burton has a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest guitar pickers in either country or rock ... Burton is one of the best guitar players to ever touch a fretboard." He is ranked number 19 in Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.
Outlaw country is a subgenre of American country music, most popular during the 1970s and early 1980s, sometimes referred to as the outlaw movement or simply outlaw music. The music has its roots in earlier subgenres like honky tonk and rockabilly and is characterized by a blend of rock and folk rhythms, country instrumentation and introspective lyrics. The movement began as a reaction to the slick production and popular structures of the Nashville sound developed by record producers like Chet Atkins.
Nashville Skyline is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on April 9, 1969, by Columbia Records as LP record, reel to reel tape and audio cassette.
"It Ain't Me Babe" is a song by Bob Dylan that originally appeared on his fourth album Another Side of Bob Dylan, which was released in 1964 by Columbia Records. According to music critic Oliver Trager, this song, along with others on the album, marked a departure for Dylan as he began to explore the possibilities of language and deeper levels of the human experience. Within a year of its release, the song was picked up as a single by folk rock act the Turtles and country artist Johnny Cash.
Songs from a Room is the second album by Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, released in 1969. It reached No. 63 on the US Billboard Top LPs and No. 2 on the UK charts.
Charles Ray McCoy is a Grammy-winning American session musician noted mainly for his harmonica performance, but also for his skill on a wide variety of instruments. In 2009, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Based in Nashville, McCoy's playing is heard on recordings by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn. He has recorded thirty-seven studio albums, including fourteen for Monument Records. Thirteen of his singles have entered the Billboard country charts. He was a member of Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry. In 2007, McCoy was inducted into the International Musicians Hall of Fame as a part a group of session musicians dubbed "The Nashville A-Team".
Jack Henderson Clement was an American singer, songwriter, and record and film producer.
"Bird on the Wire" is one of Leonard Cohen's signature songs. It was recorded 26 September 1968 in Nashville and included on his 1969 album Songs from a Room. A May 1968 recording produced by David Crosby, titled "Like a Bird", was added to the 2007 remastered CD. Judy Collins was the first to release the song on her 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes.
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962, recorded on November 14 that year, and released on the 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan and as a single.
"La Complainte du partisan" is an anti-fascist anthem about the French Resistance in World War II. The song was written in 1943 by Russian-born Anna Marly (1917–2006), with lyrics by French Resistance leader Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie (1900–1969). Marly sang it and other songs on the BBC's French service, through which she and her songs were an inspiration to the Resistance. A number of French artists have recorded and released versions of the song since, but it is better recognised globally in its English adaptation by Hy Zaret (1907–2007), best known as the lyricist of "Unchained Melody", who wrote an English translation of the lyrics, which contains several significant alterations of the meaning when compared to the original.
Rockabilly Blues is the 64th album by American country singer Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in 1980. Highlights include "Cold Lonesome Morning," which had some minor chart success, "Without Love," by his son-in-law, Nick Lowe, and a cover of the witty "The Twentieth Century is Almost Over." The first two of the aforementioned songs were the only singles from the album, though "Without Love" hardly enjoyed any chart success, peaking at No. 78. "The Twentieth Century is Almost Over" was re-recorded five years later by Cash and Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, collectively known as The Highwaymen, on their first album entitled Highwayman, though it was, in essence, a duet with Nelson.
The Times They Are a-Changin' is a 1968 album by Burl Ives, produced by Bob Johnston. It was probably recorded at Columbia Studios in Nashville, with local session musicians. It features songs by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Johnny Cash, songs by Johnston's friend Charlie Daniels, plus other pop or country standards.
"Girl from the North Country" is a song written by Bob Dylan. It was recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City in April 1963, and released the following month as the second track on Dylan's second studio album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Dylan re-recorded the song as a duet with Johnny Cash in February 1969. That recording became the opening track on Nashville Skyline, Dylan's ninth studio album.
Thomas Grady Martin was an American session guitarist in country music and rockabilly.
"I'm Moving On" is a 1950 country standard written by Hank Snow.
"One Too Many Mornings" is a song by Bob Dylan, released on his third studio album The Times They Are a-Changin' in 1964. The chords and vocal melody are in some places very similar to the song "The Times They Are A-Changin'". "One Too Many Mornings" is in the key of C Major and is fingerpicked.
"I Still Miss Someone" is a song co-written by Johnny Cash and his nephew Roy Cash, Jr and originally recorded by American country music singer Johnny Cash. He first recorded it in 1958 as the B-side to "Don't Take Your Guns to Town".
Earl Poole Ball (Jr) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, music producer and actor. His musical work spans the Ameripolitan, Country, Americana and Rockabilly genres. He has performed with many well known American musicians, including Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, Gram Parsons, Carl Perkins, Merle Haggard, Freddie Hart, Marty Stuart, Phil Ochs, Michael Nesmith, Marty Robbins, Wynn Stewart, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds. He is best known for his 20 years spent touring and recording with Johnny Cash. (1977-1997)
Ron Cornelius is a session musician and producer who has played on albums by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Al Kooper and Loudon Wainwright III. He is also the president of Gateway Entertainment which was established in 1986. As a producer he has produced Miko Marks's Freeway Bound album in 2007. He is also the co-writer of "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" which has been covered by many artists including Rufus Wainwright.