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Cash, Dylan producer Bob Johnston dies

Monday, August 17, 2015 – Bob Johnston, who produced Johnny Cash's "Live at San Quentin" and Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline," died on Monday in Nashville at 83.

Johnston also produced Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel, Willie Nelson, Flatt & Scruggs, The Byrds and Carl Perkins.

Johnston was born May 14, 1932 in Hillsboro, Texas. His mother, Diane, was musical as she wrote songs for Gene Autry and "Miles and Miles of Texas," which Asleep at the Wheel covered in 1976.

Johnston went into the Navy and returned to Fort Worth where he and his mother wrote songs for rockabilly singer Mac Curtis. Johnston also had his own career, recording rockabilly singles under the name Don Johnston, but he achieved little success.

He moved to New York in 1964 to work in production for Kapp Records. During his time in New York, he married songwriter Joy Byers. She wrote at least 16 songs for Elvis Presley films, which he later claimed that he helped write, but blamed contractual issues for only his wife receiving credit.

Johnston moved onto Columbia Records, including Patti Page, who had a 1965 hit with "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte."

Later that year, he produced Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," except for "Like a Rolling Stone." He later would produce major Dylan works "Blonde on Blonde," "John Wesley Harding," Nashville Skyline," "Self Portrait" and "New Morning."

He oversaw Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" and "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme."

Johnston eventually left New York for Nashville where he became head of Columbia there. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he produced Cash, including his prison discs, "At Folsom Prison," which was a highly successful album and helped restart Cash's career, and "At San Quentin" in 1968 and 1969 respectively. The latter contained the hit single, "A Boy Named Sue." Other Cash projects included "The Holy Land," "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," "The Johnny Cash Show," "I Walk the Line" and "Little Fauss and Big Halsy."

For The Byrds, he helmed "Dr. Byrds & My Hyde."

Other artists he produced including Flatt & Scruggs, Michael Martin Murphey, Hoyt Axton, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Joe Ely, Willie Nelson (his attempt to pay back the IRS, "The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?") and Perkins ("Go Cat Go!")

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Koncert v Praze (In Prague-Live) CD review - Koncert v Praze (In Prague-Live)
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Man In Black: Live in Denmark 1971 CD review - Man In Black: Live in Denmark 1971
Like many icons who have since departed the planet, Johnny Cash left behind a legacy that continues to flourish - in the songs he left behind, in their interpretation by others and in the man's own recordings, which still sound as fresh and vital as they were when first released. This vintage concert offers a case in point. Recorded at the peak of his prowess, it finds him replaying his classic hits - "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line" »»»
Out Among the Stars CD review - Out Among the Stars
One would think that with all the archival music, reissues and postmortem tributes released on Johnny Cash's behalf, the vaults would have been scraped pretty clean by now, with only scraps left for dedicated completists to feast upon. So it comes as no small surprise to find that the Cash archivists actually uncovered some entire sessions that haven't been unearthed until now. Recorded in the early '80s, "Out Among The Stars" is such a high quality collection that it »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Lots to like about McKenna (when you could hear her) – Lori McKenna had lots of reasons to be in a good mood. First off, the opening band, a pop act called teenender included two of her sons. In two days, her 11th disc, "The Tree" would be released to glowing reviews. So it would seem that this homecoming show was the ideal setting with all five kids, her husband, siblings, cousins, people who... »»»
Concert Review: With Sugarland, the wait was worth it – A few songs into Sugarland's show, Kristian Bush referenced the band's five-year gap between tours saying, "A lot of people think Jennifer and I have been on a five-year vacation. Actually, we've been very busy." Clearly a lot of that time was spent in rehearsal. The duo put on a two-hour high energy gem that started out big... »»»
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