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!")