Alphonso Johnson

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Alphonso Johnson
Alphonso Johnson.jpg
Johnson performing in Rochester, New York in 1977.
Background information
Birth name Alphonso Johnson
Born (1951-02-02) February 2, 1951 (age 65)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion, funk
Instruments Bass guitar, acoustic bass guitar, chapman stick, warr guitar
Years active 1970-present
Associated acts Weather Report, Bobby and the Midnites, Jazz Is Dead

Alphonso Johnson (born February 2, 1951) is an American jazz bassist, who has been influential since the early 1970s.


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,[1] 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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Johnson was one of two bass players on Phil Collins's first solo album, Face Value, in 1981.

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.

In 1983, he performed on the hit title track from Jeffrey Osborne's Stay with Me Tonight album. He then played in the Latin/rock band Santana in 1985-1989.

In 1996, Johnson played bass on tracks Dance on a Volcano and Fountain of Salmacis on Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited album.

Later in 1996, Johnson toured Europe and Japan with composer and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist James Beard, drummer Rodney Holmes, and guitarist David Gilmore.

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,[3][4][5][6] England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.


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."


Electric basses[edit]

  • Lobue Custom
  • Warwick Alphonso Johnson Custom Shop Bass Guitar[3][7]
  • Warwick Infinity
  • 5 String Modulus Fretted and Fretless Bass

Acoustic basses[edit]

  • Washburn AB45


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Chuck Mangione[edit]

  • Land of Make Believe (Mercury Records, 1973)

With Jeffrey Osborne[edit]

  • Stay With Me Tonight

With Michael Jackson[edit]

  • Man In The Mirror

With Weather Report

With Eddie Henderson

With George Duke / Billy Cobham Band

With Rod Argent

  • Moving Home (1978)

With Phil Collins

With Bob Weir

With Santana

With Steve Hackett


  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Alphonso Johnson: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Alphonso Johnson
  3. ^ a b Wetzel, Michael (September 11, 2013). "Video: German Warwick Bass Guitars". Deutsche Welle TV. Retrieved August 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Herrera, Jonathan (September 30, 2013). "Warwick Bass Camp 2013: The Best of the Bass". Premier Guitar. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ Pilger, Georg; Schmitz, Ralf (January 5, 2014). "Video: Warwick Bass Camp 2013". JazzrockTV. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Alphonso Johnson". Gitarre & Bass Magazine. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Video: Warwick Custom Shop Basses: Jack Bruce Signature for Alphonso Johnson". Warwick. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 

External links[edit]