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Eric Johnson

17th August 1954 -

Soft-spoken Eric Johnson is a guitar virtuoso who ranks among the likes of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, though his style is markedly different. He first became known for his guitar-playing abilities in Austin, Texas in the 1970s, but maintains an underground reputation and is barely known outside of guitar circles. Eric’s guitar playing is influenced by guitar legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Wes Montgomery, but he is more of a perfectionist when it comes to his sound and technique. Eric also takes his guitar playing a step further, sometimes playing in the style of other instruments such as piano. He is well known for being obsessed with the tone of his guitar and spends a lot of time getting it just right.

In the 1970s Eric Johnson played guitar for a jazz-rock band from Austin called The Electromagnets, with whom he released the album Electromagnets. The Electomagnets recorded another album, Electromagnets II, in 1975 that was not released until 2006. Eric has released 5 solo studio albums. The first, Seven Worlds, was recorded in the 70s but was shelved and never saw the light of day until 1998. A couple of tracks on this album, including the popular 'Zap', would be rerecorded for his first album to be released, 1986’s Tones. In 1990 Ah Via Musicom was released, and the instrumental 'Cliffs Of Dover' was awarded a grammy. In 1996 Johnson released the long awaited Venus Isle, a spiritual masterpiece with clear ethnic influences, and perhaps his best work to date. As a session guitarist, Eric Johnson has played for Cat Stevens and Carole King amongst others. Lately, Eric Johnson has been playing with his live blues band, Alien Love Child, and released a live album with them, Live And Beyond, in 2001. In 2002 Eric released a compilation of songs from throughout his career called Souvenir. His latest solo album, Bloom, was released in 2005.

Eric joined Joe Satriani and Steve Vai on the G3 tour, of which a recording was released on CD and video. The live version of Venus Isle’s ‘Manhattan’ on the G3 CD is a favourite amongst fans, sounding better to many in this live recording than in the studio version on Venus Isle.

Eric Johnson has owned many guitars, the exact amount difficult to ascertain because many of them have also been stolen. He is often seen playing a sunburst Fender Stratocaster called "Virginia", but also owns a variety of Gibson guitars. Eric uses mostly Marshall and Fender amps. His effects set-up is complicated, but amongst other pedals he uses a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and a Dunlop Crybaby wah. Eric uses GHS guitar strings.

As well as contributing tutorials to guitar magazines, Eric has released instructional guitar videos, aimed at intermediate to advanced guitar players. These make good viewing even for those wishing only to see a close up of the master at work. His latest title in this category is Eric Johnson - The Art of Guitar, a DVD tutorial in which he picks and elaborates on 10 important musical concepts. Favourite Video


Tones 1986
Ah Via Musicom 1990
Venus Isle 1996
Seven Worlds 1998
Live and Beyond (with Alien Love Child) 2001
Souvenir 2002
Bloom 2005 Recommends:

Guitar tab books Guitar tab books


Official Eric Johnson website

User comments

Posted by Jon from UK (9th November 2004)
Eric Johnson isn't a very well known guitar player, but he is one of the most talented in the world. He featured alongside Joe Satriani and Steve Vai on one of the G3 tours, of which a live album was made containing three of his songs. Of the three guitarists, Eric Johnson's style stands out as very different - not so much a hard-rock shredder as a blues and pop guitarist. My favourite album of his is Venus Isle, which showcases Eric Johnson's song writing skills as well as his guitar playing (which is exceptional on each album). Although he sings too, I feel that Eric Johnson is at his strongest on the intrumental tracks.

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