Michael Johnson Photo


Of the wide variety of stories told, his appreciation for the talents and long friendship of singer/guitarist Michael Johnson, who passed away last month resonated strongest for me. He called Michael the first professional musician he ever met. “He was a professional, because he really knew what he was doing.” He followed that with “Mona Ray,” a beautiful instrumental they both wrote and recorded on the Dreams and All That Stuff album.
Leo Kottke, City Winery (Nashville), September 7th, 2017
Ken Spooner, Live Show Reviews Elmore Magazine



Road to Freedom
Light One Candle


Influences you’d never know" Musing Wisely Podcast
Featuring Billy McLaughlin



"It's always been a secret menu type thing since we named it after Michael Johnson, singer of the song Bluer Than Blue a few years ago, but when he passed last month, we decided to put it on the menu as a little tribute to him."
Ryan Pitman, Owner & Brewer, Eastlake Craft Brewery

Sol Knopf, Craig Bickhardt, Don Henry, MJ; Smyrna Opera House, Smyrna, Delaware, October 10, 2015
Photo: Nancy Fay
A picture from one of our last shows together (Michael, far right). You called me one day many years ago after a different show we did together at the Bluebird Cafe to compliment me on my performance. I was standing in my kitchen feeling like crap just before you called. I was floating after. It was the greatest compliment of my life just because it came from you, and I don’t even remember what you said.

The kitchen I mentioned was in a house on Perkins Lane in Franklin TN-- the house we found the very night you and Sally invited us to dinner at your place around the corner. Eileen and I drove out there a bit early that evening and decided to cruise around the neighborhood for a half-hour. The house had just been put up for sale that day. We bought it and spent eighteen happy years in it. I don’t recall what we ate that night but you couldn’t have served us anything better than the keys to that house. It was great being your neighbor…sorry I broke your lawn mower.

Not long after we settled into the house, I went to the Bluebird to hear a solo performance you gave. I left that show intimidated as hell but also tremendously inspired. I’ve never seen a single show in my life as flawlessly and intensely delivered as that one.

You honored me once again when you called to ask me if anyone had recorded my song “Donald and June.” It killed me to have to say that Don Williams had just put the song on hold. I’d give anything now to hear you sing the damn song just once.

One last thing…it has been a tremendous gift to me that we were able to do a few shows together after we both left Nashville. I think this has meant more to me than all the rest. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder than I did when we were on stage together. You were a man of many gifts given freely and with much kindness. God speed, we miss you terribly already.

--Craig Bickhardt, July 2017

2022: "This week I found myself thinking of my friend Michael Johnson. He’s been gone a few years now, and I play his music often. We had some great times together. He was a total sweetheart, a talented musician, and a great person to be around. Wherever you are Michael, you and your music are still with us.

Love and Sunshine,
Your forever pal Stephen"

"I first met Michael about twenty years ago. He called me out of the blue and said he wanted to meet me. I don't know how he got my number, but I invited him over, and we became instant friends."

7/25/2023: Before the night ends, I want to remember my talented pal Michael Johnson. Today, it will be six years since he passed. I play his music often. I loved performing with Michael. He was such an underrated talent and guitar player. We had some great times together on and off the stage. Michael was a true friend, hilarious (he gave me some onstage jokes to use), a total sweetheart, and a great person to be around. 💙🎶
Love and Sunshine, Your forever pal Stephen

2nd photo courtesy of Deanna Barth

August 20, 2017, Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, Minneapolis, MN

The Michael Johnson Memorial Service Program
Click to view PDF

August 28, 2017, Colorado Memorial at Olde Town Pickin' Parlor

A lovely tribute for Mike, as he is known by family and friends in Colorado, took place on Tuesday evening at The Olde Town Pickin' Parlor in Arvada, Colorado. Memories were shared, along with listening to many of Mike's songs. It was an intimate and fun loving group. Tears and laughter were shared.

Thanks to Judy Johnson and Corliss Brecht for the photos

Michael and Mary Huckins of Dakota Blonde at this venue in 2009

Slideshow from the Michael Johnson benefit in Nashville, TN 9/19/17