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"To me, he's the ultimate bass player.."
That's how Allan Holdsworth describes Jimmy Johnson: "I can't think of anybody else on the planet I'd rather have play bass, because of the way he thinks and feels about the instrument. The way he defines the role in this band, and in anything I've ever heard him do, is just awesome. It's the function of the bass taken to the maximum, and I just love it. What else can I say?" What else indeed..?
Born in Minneapolis USA Jimmy Johnson has been a professional musician since 1969. He comes from a strong musical background, his father being a bass player in the Minnesota
Orchestra while his mother teaches piano. Although he started playing bass around the age of eleven - when his mother would sometimes write notes to his school Principal so he could get out to do sessions - his first instrument was the piano. He then studied clarinet, as he says "legit", and although he never actually 'studied' on bass guitar he feels his clarinet lessons rubbed off. Jimmy says: '1 think linearly because of my clarinet training - that's a melody instrument if ever there was one - and I think a lot of that transferred over. I'm not really trained enough to know which scales are supposed to fit where. People say: "'Well, you're playing a half demolished something or other scale there' and I say: 'Really?' Rut it's just by ear - I'm just trying to play melodies that hold together".
Among his influences over the years Jimmy lists Stanley Clarke and Jaco at the top, although he's a fan of many bass players. He doesn't however regard himself as modelled on any one musician, though he freely admits to learning Stanley Clarke licks in the early days, but that 'went by the wayside' when Jaco came along...
At the end of 1978 Jimmy moved out to L.A. Working freelance, he became one of the first bassists to start playing with an extra string - a discovery he credits to his father's symphony bass experience.
He teamed up with Allan Holdsworth in 1985. It was an invitation to a rehearsal which led to him becoming a major element on Allan's album of that year, 'Metal Fatigue', and Jimmy has featured on all subsequent albums - 'Atavachron' (1986) 'Sand' (1987) and 'Secrets' (1989). In the touring spaces where he's not or recording with Holdsworth, Jimmy fills his time in other ways: "I'm not really a worker bee in L.A. - I do records, jingles and some film and TV stuff - but working with Allan is the total opposite of that; it's just get out there and blow'.
As well as being a major player on the L.A. session scene, Johnson balances his time between that, working with Allan and with his hometown band, Flim and the BB's. Flim and the BB's started off as a kind of studio rhythm section, which eventually got involved in playing for the early development of digital recording, and led to the release of compact disc albums including 'Tricycle' (1983 ), 'Neon' (1987) and 'The Further Adventures of Flim and the BB's' (1988). Talking about his direct to disc projects, Jimmy in an interview with American magazine Guitar World in May 89 said:
"It's nice melodic music - not very dark". He then goes on to admit to overdubbing a part of a particular track when the sleeve notes state, 'We don't overdub, we don't remix, etc etc.'
This tour is Jimmy's third visit to Europe. His previous visits included playing festivals with Lee Ritenour, who's albums, 'Harlequin' (1985) 'Earth Run' (1986) and 'Color Rit' (1989) Jimmy can add to his very impressive list of credits. Jimmy enthuses: "I'm looking forward to this tour because I've never really seen England, and with the other guys it should be fun; you just never know what's going to happen, and that makes it interesting. It's just one of those bands. You're proud to come into a town and be playing with Allan Holdsworth; it's one of the few gigs like that and I'm really glad to be involved."
Transcribed by Per Stornes
Updated: February 1, 2001
Scheduled update: None
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