Alphonso Johnson (born February 2, 1951) is an American jazz bassist active since the early 1970s. Johnson was a member of the jazz fusion group Weather Report from 1973 to 1975, and has performed and recorded with numerous high-profile rock and jazz acts including Santana, Phil Collins, members of the Grateful Dead, Steve Kimock, and Chet Baker.
|Born||February 2, 1951|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Johnson started off as an upright bass player, but switched to the electric bass in his late teens. Beginning his career in the early 1970s, Johnson showed innovation and fluidity on the electric bass. He sessioned with a few jazz musicians before landing a job with Weather Report, taking over for co-founding member Miroslav Vitous. Johnson debuted with Weather Report on the album Mysterious Traveller. He appeared on two more Weather Report albums: Tale Spinnin' (1975) and Black Market (1976) before he left the band to work with drummer Billy Cobham. During 1976-77 he recorded three solo albums as a band leader, for the Epic label, in a fusion-funk vein.
Johnson was one of the first musicians to introduce the Chapman Stick to the public. In 1977, his knowledge of the instrument offered him a rehearsal with Genesis, who were looking for a replacement for guitarist Steve Hackett. Being more of a bassist than a guitarist, Johnson instead recommended his friend ex-Sweetbottom guitarist and fellow session musician Daryl Stuermer, who would go on to remain a member of Genesis's touring band until the band's final concert in 2022.
In early 1982, Johnson joined Grateful Dead member Bob Weir's side project Bobby and the Midnites. He would reunite with Weir in 2000, playing bass in place of Phil Lesh on tour with The Other Ones. He has also performed fusion versions of Grateful Dead songs alongside Billy Cobham in the band Jazz Is Dead.
He has an extensive experience as a bass teacher and has conducted bass seminars and clinics in Germany, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.
Johnson started his college education at Pierce College, and then transferred to California State University, Northridge, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education in 2014. As an undergraduate student, Johnson performed as a member of the CSUN Wind Ensemble. He pursued his graduate degree at CSU Northridge, earning a Master of Arts in Secondary Curriculum and Instruction in 2021. He serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California and the California Institute of the Arts.
Electric basses edit
- Fender Precision, extensively modified
- Chapman Stick
- Lobue Custom
- Warwick Alphonso Johnson Custom Shop Bass Guitar
- Warwick Infinity
- Vigier Arpege 5 fretless
- Modulus Quantum 5 String Fretted and Fretless Bass
Acoustic basses edit
- Washburn AB45
As leader/co-leader edit
- Moonshadows (Epic, 1976)
- Yesterday's Dreams (Epic, 1976)
- Spellbound (Epic, 1977)
- Alivemutherforya with Billy Cobham, Steve Khan, Tom Scott (Columbia, 1978)
As a member edit
- Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974) – rec. 1973–74
- Tale Spinnin' (Columbia, 1975)
- Black Market (Columbia, 1976) – rec. 1975–76
- Beyond Appearances (Columbia, 1985) – rec. 1984
- Freedom (Columbia, 1987)
- Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (Columbia, 1990)
- Blue Light Rain (Zebra, 1998)
- Laughing Water (Zebra, 1999) – live
- Great Sky River (Zebra, 2001) – live
- Grateful Jazz (Pet Peev, 2015) – rec. 2004
As sideman edit
With Bob Weir
- Chet Baker, You Can't Go Home Again (Horizon, 1977)
- Dee Dee Bridgewater, Just Family (Elektra, 1977)
- George Cables, Shared Secrets (MuseFX, 2001)
- Phil Collins, Face Value (Virgin, 1981)
- George Duke, Liberated Fantasies (MPS, 1976)
- George Duke-Billy Cobham Band, "Live" on Tour in Europe (Atlantic, 1976)
- Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited (Camino, 1996)
- Eddie Henderson, Sunburst (Blue Note, 1975)
- Allan Holdsworth, Velvet Darkness (CTI, 1976)
- Chuck Mangione, Land of Make Believe (Mercury, 1973)
- Hermeto Pascoal, Slaves Mass (Warner Bros., 1977)
- Abraxas Pool, Abraxas Pool (Miramar, 1997)
- Flora Purim, Open Your Eyes You Can Fly (Milestone, 1976)
- Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter, Live at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival (Image Entertainment, 2005)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 1292/3. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- Yanow, Scott. "Alphonso Johnson: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- "forbassplayersonly.com: Alphonso Johnson". Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- Wetzel, Michael (11 September 2013). "Video: German Warwick Bass Guitars". Deutsche Welle TV. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Herrera, Jonathan (30 September 2013). "Warwick Bass Camp 2013: The Best of the Bass". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
- Pilger, Georg; Schmitz, Ralf (5 January 2014). "Video: Warwick Bass Camp 2013". JazzrockTV. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "Alphonso Johnson". Gitarre & Bass Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
- "Alphonso Johnson | USC Thornton School of Music". music.usc.edu. 11 October 2017.
- "Video: Warwick Custom Shop Basses: Jack Bruce Signature for Alphonso Johnson". Warwick. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- The Alphonso Johnson official website
- 'Ep. 45: Alphonso Johnson, bassist from the Weather Report' Interview by Tigran Arakelyan