Undoubtedly one of the most respected guitarists on the planet, Eric Johnson kicked off his solo career as the leader of the Eric Johnson Group in the late 1970s.
While still a working session musician—his early credits include Carole King, Christopher Cross and Cat Stevens—the Austin native's first studio effort was 1978's Seven Worlds. Less than a decade later, Johnson received his first Grammy nod, as "Zap" was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1987.
Ah Via Musicom (1990), however, was his first taste of mainstream acceptance as the Capitol Records-released album sold platinum and its track "Cliffs of Dover" won a Grammy.
The Nineties brought another acclaimed album for Johnson, 1996's Venus Isle, which charted in the U.S. and Japan. The same year Venus Isle hit stores, Johnson won over plenty of new fans as a featured player on the inaugural G3 tour; the home video of this tour sold platinum. Just a few years later, Martin Guitars would release a limited-edition Eric Johnson Signature MC-40 model that built to his specifications. Since then, Fender has put out an Eric Johnson Signature Fender Strat, and Roland has issued the Eric Johnson Tone Capsule.
In support of Johnson’s latest studio effort, 2016’s EJ, he's now on the road. GuitarWorld.com recently caught up with him to talk EJ, signature gear and training. More info can be found at ericjohnson.com.
Is there something you wish more people knew about Eric Johnson?
There’s a more mixed bag of music coming up on the horizon.
I’ve read that you started playing guitar when you were 11, and joined your first band at 15. How instrumental were lessons and formal