Michael Johnson is a masterful guitarist and songwriter who has had several Billboard-charting hits. Equally at home singing pop, country or classics from the American songbook, he remains one of the true authentic voices in contemporary music. His songs have been recorded by such artists as Alison Krauss, Suzy Bogguss, Chet Atkins and The Persuasions.
Born in Alamosa, Colorado and raised near Denver, he began playing guitar at age 13. He went to Colorado State College to study music but left after winning an international talent contest that landed him a deal with Epic Records. He then moved to Barcelona, where he attended the Liceu Conservatory to study with the classical guitar great Graciano Tarragó. Not long after returning to the States, he joined Randy Sparks in a group called the New Society, touring East Asia. After that he toured with the Chad Mitchell Trio and began co-writing and touring with John Denver, forming a trio called Denver, Boise & Johnson.
After spending some time as an actor, working in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, he returned to music to release some of his biggest songs, including Top 40 hits like “Bluer Than Blue,” “This Night Won’t Last Forever” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” He then enjoyed equal success in Nashville, recording #1 country songs with singers like Juice Newton and Sylvia.
Always most at home on stage with just an acoustic guitar, Michael continued to tour solo, playing about half his shows in Minnesota, where he lived from 1969 to 1985. At one of his recent shows at the Dakota Jazz Club, he met up with singer-songwriter John Gorka. Michael talked about wanting to return to his acoustic roots, and John connected him with his manager and his St. Paul-based label Red House Records. Very familiar with Michael’s work, Red House president Eric Peltoniemi was delighted to meet Michael and hear his new material. “I was just stunned at how great his new songs were,” he says. “It thrilled me to hear a true artist still at the top of his game.” Michael signed with Red House and got to work recording his new songs at Minneapolis’ Wild Sound Recording Studio.
Ready to return to his roots, Michael moved to Minneapolis. “It just seemed that all roads were leading me back to Minnesota–signing with Red House, working on the new album and most especially, reconnecting with my daughter who lives here.” Michael adds, “And I’m just an old hippy, and I need to be up where my people are.”