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 (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.
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for six decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" (1964) became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. His lyrics incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied existing conventions of popular music, and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture, such as on the six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" (1965).
Johnny Cash was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Leonard Norman Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and romantic relationships. Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.
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.
Orvon Grover "Gene" Autry was an American singer, songwriter, actor, musician and rodeo performer who gained fame as a singing cowboy in a crooning style on radio, in films, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s. Autry was the owner of a television station, several radio stations in Southern California, and the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.
Asleep at the Wheel is an American country music group that was formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia and is based in Austin, Texas. The band has won nine Grammy Awards since their 1970 inception, released over twenty albums, and has charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. Their highest-charting single, "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read", peaked at No. 10 in 1975.
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll. Some have also described it as a blend of bluegrass with rock and roll. The term "rockabilly" itself is a portmanteau of "rock" and "hillbilly", the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, and electric blues.
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.
Rosemary Timothy Yuro, professionally known as Timi Yuro, was an American singer and songwriter. Sometimes called "the little girl with the big voice," she is considered to be one of the first blue-eyed soul stylists of the rock era. According to one critic, "her deep, strident, almost masculine voice, staggered delivery and the occasional sob created a compelling musical presence." Yuro possessed a contralto vocal range.
Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".
"It Hurts Me" is a 1964 Top 40 song recorded by Elvis Presley on RCA Victor. Credited to Joy Byers and Charles E. Daniels, "It Hurts Me" is a ballad that was recorded by Elvis Presley on January 12, 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).
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Clara Ann Fowler, known by her stage name Patti Page, was an American singer of pop and country music. She was the top-charting female vocalist and best-selling female artist of the 1950s, selling over 100 million records during a six-decade long career. She was often introduced as "the Singin' Rage, Miss Patti Page". New York WNEW disc-jockey William B. Williams introduced her as "A Page in my life called Patti".
Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and singer Art Garfunkel. They were one of the bestselling music groups of the 1960s and became counterculture icons of the decade's social revolution, alongside artists such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan. Their biggest hits—including "The Sound of Silence" (1964), "Mrs. Robinson" (1968), "The Boxer" (1969), and "Bridge over Troubled Water" (1970)—reached number one on singles charts worldwide.
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.
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017.
Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew and Motown's The Funk Brothers.
Charles Edward Daniels is an American multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and singer, known for his contributions to Southern rock, country, and bluegrass music. He is perhaps best known for his number-one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Daniels has been active as a singer and musician since the 1950s. He was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
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?"
"To Be Alone with You" is a song by Bob Dylan from his 1969 album Nashville Skyline.
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.
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.
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 (nee Byers) died in May 2017.
Earl Eugene Scruggs was an American musician noted for popularizing a three-finger banjo picking style, now called "Scruggs style," which is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. His three-finger style of playing was radically different from the traditional way the five-string banjo had previously been played. This new style of playing became popular and elevated the banjo from its previous role as a background rhythm instrument to featured solo status. He popularized the instrument across several genres of music.
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'.
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.
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.
Jack Henderson Clement was an American singer, songwriter, and record and film producer.
The Foggy Mountain Boys were an American bluegrass band. The band was founded by guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs and is viewed by music historians as one of the premier bluegrass groups in the history of the genre. The band was originally formed in 1948 by Flatt, who had been a member of Bill Monroe's bluegrass band. Flatt brought Scruggs with him shortly after leaving Monroe.
"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.
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.
"I Shall Be Released" is a 1967 song, written by Bob Dylan.
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.
Mark James is an American songwriter who wrote hits for singers B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee, and Elvis Presley, most notably Presley's last U.S. number one hit single, "Suspicious Minds."
"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.
Jerry Glenn Kennedy is an American record producer, songwriter and guitar player.
"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".
McGavock Dickinson "Mac" Gayden is an American rock and country singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He is also president of Wild Child Records, formed in 2004.
Nashville Airplane is the 27th album by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs released in 1968 on the Columbia Limited Edition label. It was recorded shortly before their breakup in 1969. Lester Flatt resisted the change in direction to a point that led to the breakup.
Donald Firth "Don" Law was an English-born American record producer and music business executive. He produced Robert Johnson's only recordings, and as head of Columbia Records' country music division later worked with many leading country musicians including Bob Wills, Carl Smith, Flatt and Scruggs, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Johnny Horton, Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash.
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.