Alphonso Johnson

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Alphonso Johnson
Johnson in Rochester, New York, 1977
Johnson in Rochester, New York, 1977
Background information
Born (1951-02-02) 2 February 1951 (age 70)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Musician
  • composer
  • educator
Years active1970–present
LabelsEpic/CBS Records
Associated acts

Alphonso Johnson (born 2 February 1951) is an American jazz bassist active since the early 1970s. Johnson was a member of the influential jazz fusion group Weather Report from 1973 to 1975, and has performed and recorded with numerous high-profile rock and jazz acts including Santana, Phil Collins, members of the Grateful Dead, and Chet Baker.


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. Johnson debuted with Weather Report on the album Mysterious Traveller. He 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 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.

In 2014 he earned the Bachelor of Arts in Music Education degree from the Department of Music at California State University, Northridge. As an undergraduate student, Johnson performed as a member of the CSUN Wind Ensemble.

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 serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California[7] and the California Institute of the Arts.


Electric basses[edit]

Acoustic basses[edit]

  • Washburn AB45


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Hermeto Pascoal

With Abraxas Pool

With Chet Baker

With Dee Dee Bridgewater

With George Cables

With Phil Collins

With Steve Hackett

With Eddie Henderson

With Flora Purim

With Santana

With Weather Report

With Bob Weir


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

External links[edit]