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Johnson in Rochester, New York, 1977
|Birth name||Alphonso Johnson|
February 2, 1951 |
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, jazz fusion, funk|
|Instruments||Bass, Chapman Stick, Warr guitar|
|Associated acts||Weather Report, Bobby and the Midnites, Jazz Is Dead|
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 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. His playing was featured on the Weather Report album Mysterious Traveller (1974) on the songs "Cucumber Slumber" and "Scarlet Woman". Johnson 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 2007 reunion tour.
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.
Since the fall of 2011 he has been working toward a music education degree at the Department of Music at California State University, Northridge. 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.
He is currently an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California. 
Johnson has two sons named Myles Ramon and Malcolm Ra Johnson who are following in their father's footsteps as artists. Myles is studying to become a film director and Malcolm is attending the Academy of Art studying illustration. The two are working together on a graphic novel titled "Roof Top Jazz."
Myles and Malcolm plan to release a feature film in October 2014 titled "Curious."
- Lobue Custom
- Warwick Alphonso Johnson Custom Shop Bass Guitar
- Warwick Infinity
- 5 String Modulus Fretted and Fretless Bass
- Washburn AB45
- Moonshadows (Epic, 1976)
- Yesterday's Dreams (Epic, 1976)
- Spellbound (Epic, 1977)
With Chuck Mangione
- Land of Make Believe (Mercury, 1973)
With Weather Report
With Eddie Henderson
- Sunburst (Blue Note, 1975)
With George Duke/Billy Cobham Band
- Live on Tour in Europe (Atlantic, 1976)
With Allan Holdsworth
- Velvet Darkness (CTI, 1976)
With Rod Argent
- Moving Home (1978)
With Phil Collins
- Face Value (Virgin, 1981)
With Bob Weir
- Beyond Appearances (Columbia, 1985)
- Freedom (CBS, 1987)
- Blues for Salvador (1987)
- Viva Santana! (1988)
- Spirits Dancing in the Flesh (1990)
- Abraxas Pool (1997)
With Steve Hackett
- Genesis Revisited (Snapper Classics UK, 1996)
- Yanow, Scott. "Alphonso Johnson: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- forbassplayersonly.com: Alphonso Johnson
- Wetzel, Michael (September 11, 2013). "Video: German Warwick Bass Guitars". Deutsche Welle TV. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- Herrera, Jonathan (September 30, 2013). "Warwick Bass Camp 2013: The Best of the Bass". Premier Guitar. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
- Pilger, Georg; Schmitz, Ralf (January 5, 2014). "Video: Warwick Bass Camp 2013". JazzrockTV. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Alphonso Johnson". Gitarre & Bass Magazine. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- "Video: Warwick Custom Shop Basses: Jack Bruce Signature for Alphonso Johnson". Warwick. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
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