Bob Dylan And Johnny Cash Producer Bob Johnston Dies
They collaborated again on four more albums – 1967’s John Wesley Harding, 1969’s Nashville Skyline, 1970’s Self Portrait and New Morning. He was 83 years old. “Bob Johnston likes to sit back and watch an artist produce himself, and then he puts it together”. Whether you were a big-timer or a first-timer, he could stand there and talk to you and you’d want to do better. He eventually worked as an independent producer.
Johnston was born to a musical family on May 14, 1932 in Hillsboro, Texas; his mother Diane Johnston wrote songs for Gene Autry as well as the single “Miles and Miles of Texas”, which became an Asleep at the Wheel hit in the Seventies. Bob Johnston wrote songs under the name Don Johnston from 1956 to 1961 before moving into production work, and then becoming a staff producer at Columbia Records. He had tried to get Dylan to record in Nashville in late 1965. Following that success, he began working with Dylan. Just a couple weeks later, Cash came back to Johnston and – as Johnston remembered – told him that the record label “found out about it and they said they’d fire me, fire you, and close the [Nashville] office”. “I was in town and called about (the tickets)”. “Bob’s wife told me he pass[ed] away peacefully”.
“So I went over to the studio that afternoon and Dylan said to me, ‘Listen, I’m getting ready to record this song. I was better than everybody else”, Johnston said.
Mr. Johnston’s tactics apparently worked.
Bob Johnston, who produced some of the most iconic albums of the 1960s, has died.
“All I know is that I was out recording one day, and Tom had always been there – I had no reason to think he wasn’t going to be there – and I looked up one day and Bob was there”, Dylan told Rolling Stone in 1969 about how he and Johnston were first paired.
Although Johnston’s work was principally with American musicians, he did accept an unusual commission to record in England in 1972.
The Texan producer also worked on some of Leonard Cohen’s most famous releases, including 1971 release “Songs Of Love And Hate”. “He allowed things that many established producers would have opposed”.
As Johnston recalled to Goldmine magazine in 2011, Cash wanted to cut a live album at a prison.
Johnston produced a who’s who of rock and country acts including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, Marty Robbins, Flatt & Scruggs, Leonard Cohen, Michael Martin Murphey, Hoyt Axton, Jimmy Cliff, Alvin Lee, Patti Page, Willie Nelson, Carl Perkins, The Byrds and The New Riders of the Purple Sage.
“My job wasn’t to be a hero and to tell Paul Simon or Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson what the f-k to do!” Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.