Jesse Johnson (Guitarist/Composer/Producer) has an impressive set of credentials. With accomplishments including four solo LPs (A&M Records), four LPs with The Time (Warner Brothers Records), numerous Gold & Platinum LPs, numerous performances and recordings with and for top artists around the world, Jesse has established himself as a bona fide talent. Johnson was born in Rock Island, Illinois, but cut his musical teeth in East St. Louis, Ill & St. Louis, Mo. He started playing guitar and taught himself to play by listening to recordings of Lightning’ Hopkins, Funkadelic, Albert King, B.B. King, Curtis Mayfield, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnson, just to name a few of his favorites.
Various biker bars and nightclubs around the Midwest provided the canvas for Jesse to hone his craft and develop his unique style of guitar playing and blending of musical genres. It was in one of those many bars & clubs, that a promoter took notice of the guitarist and suggested he venture to Minneapolis, MN, which was in the midst of becoming a musical hotbed for major record company A&R reps. Go Greyhound! Taking up residence at the local downtown Mpls YMCA (April 1981), Johnson eventually joined the local band “Enterprise” which included an unknown Morris Day on drums and Sueann Carwell on lead vocals (at that time Sueann Carwell was already signed to Warner Brother’s Records) It was Day who orchestrated Johnson’s first meeting with the already successful recording artist, Prince.
Prince was in the midst of recording an album for Morris and was in search of a musical counter part to complete the duo that was originally named: “The Nerve” (First mastered vinyl refs actually read, “The Nerve”, but the name was already taken. That’s how “The Time” name came to be.) When Jesse offered to audition, Prince responded: “No need, Morris speaks highly of your playing and I feel your look will work perfectly for this project I’m developing”. Johnson on the other hand, really didn’t know what to think, for he had not a clue who Prince was at that time. (One must remember, it’s early 1981 and Jesse was fresh out of a local Iowa rock & roll band, “P i lot” and was coming from a small Midwest town, (Ridgeview, Iowa) with a population less than 32,000 and was lacking exposure to R&B radio stations. Iowa at the time was mostly comprised of classic rock stations.
Being a session player was one thing, and that, surely, Johnson was, but playing guitar in The Time, a national act provided the guitarist unimaginable opportunities such as signing to WB Records, a successful charting record, selling Gold status, worldwide notoriety, performing to large audiences worldwide, and most importantly learning how to craft and record songs. The show of proof in his early song writing development, can be heard in compositions he co-wrote with Prince such as: The Time’s” , “The Bird” “Ice Cream Castles” and “If The Kid” (Jesse first published work was “Bite The Beat” by Vanity 6).
Jesse soon left The Time after finishing Purple Rain the movie and The Time’s Ice Cream Castles LP to pursue a solo career. With the help and guidance of manager Owen Husney (American Artist) he dove into producing and writing his first solo LP for A&M records, Jesse Johnson’s Revue. His solo efforts proved to be another successful move. His first solo project produced three top ten singles, “Be Your Man”, “Can You Help Me” and “I Want My Girl”. Jesse Johnson’s Revue soon became an added addition to the Gold & Platinum awards that decorated the walls of the studio. His accomplishments did not go un-noticed.
After the success of his first album, Jesse makes worthy strides in movie scoring and soundtracks by contributing to notable films such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Another 48 Hours, A Time to Kill, White Men Can’t Jump, Action Jackson, Graffiti Bridge, The Five Heartbeats and even independent films such as Steam (2009) to name a few. Jesse returned to the studio to write, produce and perform another solo album but with a different sound. Bare My Naked Soul is Jesse’s stripped down approach to music. He digs deep, and once again produces an album that explores the depth of his soul. The album is flavored with guitar, and is uniquely different from anything he had previously released.
With Jesse’s undying drive to express himself through his music he’s back from the studio to deliver his latest release, Verbal Penetration. This album, once again exposes Jesse’s soul to the world by creating a truly timeless piece addressing issues that affect society today. This album is sometimes reminiscent of his past work. But with a new twist that is sure to please many a fan that fell in love with Jesse’s style of music, guitar playing, and songwriting. Verbal Penetration will capture audiences ready for something new as well as thought provoking. Jesse’s continued fan support by admirers of his work worldwide comes as no surprise to anyone who understands the longevity of music that moves you, or in the case of Jesse Johnson, “Music That Makes You Move!!!