Producer Bob Johnston Dead at 83
Legendary producer Bob Johnston — who produced one of the most highly-regarded albums of Johnny Cash's career — has passed away.
The New York Times reports the Texas native died on Aug. 14 in Gallatin, Tenn., near Nashville. His cause of death was heart failure. He was 83 years old.
During Johnston's 50-year career, he helmed some of the most important and impactful recording of his generation, including Cash’s legendary 1968 live album, At Folsom Prison, and its 1969 follow-up, At San Quentin. His country credits also included projects from Marty Robbins, Flatt & Scruggs, Hoyt Axton, Joe Ely, Willie Nelson and Michael Martin Murphey. Johnston produced a pair of albums for Murphey in 1973 — Geronimo’s Cadillac and Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir — that are widely credited with helping launch the Texas-based "cosmic cowboy" movement.
Johnston arguably made his biggest contribution to the singer-songwriter folk-rock movement of the 1960s, producing watershed albums including Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline, as well as Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage. Rosemary and Thyme from Simon and Garfunkel.
The iconic producer also produced some of Leonard Cohen's earliest albums, beginning in 1969 with Songs From a Room and continuing with Songs of Love and Hate (1971) and Live Songs (1973).
According to Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black, “Johnston brought the technical brilliances needed for the sound the artist wanted, recruited the ideal musicians to capture it, and during the recording offered unending enthusiasm, support, expertise, and encouragement. He championed unique projects even when most other company executives were skeptical and continued to look after the albums even when they were finished and released.”
Johnston is survived by his wife, songwriter Joy Byers, his son and three grandchildren.
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