Bob Johnson (musician)

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For other people named Bob Johnson, see Bob Johnson (disambiguation).
See also Robert Johnson (musician), a Delta Blues musician

Robert "Bob" Johnson (born 18 March 1944) is a British guitarist. He was formerly in the electric folk band Steeleye Span from 1972 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 2001.

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in London; his mother was a music teacher. He was educated at Westminster City School in London and the University of Hertfordshire.

Musical career[edit]

Johnson played acoustic and electric guitars and sang on Appalachian dulcimer player Roger Nicholson's 1972 album Nonesuch for Dulcimer, credited as Robert Johnson. He went on to become a member of the successful English electric folk band Steeleye Span in 1972 after being introduced by fiddler Peter Knight. He first appeared on the group's fourth album, Below the Salt, where he took lead vocals on the track "King Henry". Along with "King Henry", Johnson introduced many of the band's better-known songs into the repertoire, such as "Thomas the Rhymer", "Alison Gross", "Long Lankin" and "Gaudete".[1]

Despite taking lead vocals on many songs, Johnson was something of a background member. He left Steeleye Span temporarily in 1977 to work on a concept album, The King of Elfland's Daughter with Peter Knight. However, he returned in 1980 to record Sails of Silver. After Tim Hart's departure from the band in 1980, Johnson became the sole guitarist and a more prominent member, taking on a central role for the albums Back in Line (1986) and Tempted and Tried (1989).

Johnson left Steeleye Span in 2000 due to health reasons, but returned in 2001 to record Present--The Very Best of Steeleye Span. However his remaining health issues prevented him from touring, so he was replaced by Ken Nicol. Nevertheless, he continues to be involved with the band, contributing songwriting and vocals to their studio albums, most recently Wintersmith in 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Johnson is a qualified psychologist, having completed a degree with the University of Hertfordshire. He also gives guitar lessons. He and his former wife, Jane (now divorced), have two children, Barnaby and Holly.

He is a first cousin once removed of British singer-songwriter Jonathan Taylor (son of Patricia Usher, Johnson's first cousin), who is noted for his works 'The Holocaust Denier' and 'If Only' which both received BBC and worldwide media recognition. Taylor (born in Warwick, 1966) relocated to Bulgaria in 2005, enjoying success on several Bulgarian national television stations with 'Baba Marta' - believed to be the first ever song written in English about one of Christian Europe's oldest surviving pagan festivals.

Both Johnson and Taylor are direct descendants of Rebecca Johnson, née Reeves, a pioneer in early cylindrical recordings. Joffrey Johnson (brother of Johnson's father) was a member of the design and invention team at the then West Midlands Rover plant and notably designed the hazard warning lights and the 'alternator', a replacement for the unreliable and dated dynamo system used within the worldwide automobile industry, and furthermore developed air-conditioning systems.[2]