Jim Johnston (composer)
|Birth name||James Alan Johnston|
|Also known as||James A. Johnston, James Johnston, Jim Johnston|
|Born||Arkansas, United States|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, composer|
|Instruments||Vocals, recording, guitar, drums, piano|
|Labels||WWE Music Group|
Johnston's chief role in WWE was providing the soundtrack for WWE programming, in addition to providing musical content for WWE's large output of video games, website content and entrance themes for WWE superstars and divas. Johnston achieved fame for producing many of the memorable entrance theme songs for the WWE Superstars, including the likes of The Undertaker, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Big Show, Mr. McMahon amongst hundreds of other superstars, many of which have been released on commercial albums and through iTunes. Since 2014, CFO$ have taken over responsibility for creating entrance themes and musical content for WWE's TV output with Johnston now concentrating on WWE's film division - WWE Studios for whom he has written several soundtracks.
Beyond superstar entrance themes, Johnston composed music for the majority of WWE's PPV and television productions, including show themes, music videos, vignettes, commercials, and tributes. He likens his work to from our executive producer: "‘We’ve got a new guy coming,' or ‘He’s breaking out of a tag team and he needs music.' It's like scoring for a movie: Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he light and svelte and quick-moving, which dictates a fast tempo, or is he a big plodding kind of a guy, in which case you need a big, heavy, the-wrath-of-God-is-coming-upon-us sound?"
Johnston has mentioned in past interviews that he suffers from stage fright and a fear of live audiences, and it was this fear that led to him seeking a more 'studio oriented' music career. His first job in the entertainment business was working with MTV and VH1 to create bumpers and commercial cues, before Producer of Music for the company.
Johnston has scored several film projects for WWE Studios, including The Chaperone, That's What I Am, and The Reunion. He also provided music for other WWE-affiliated products including the World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL.
Johnston is well known for writing, composing and producing all his compositions alone, in addition to playing all instruments. He will occasionally recruit outside vocalists or additional musicians to contribute when the piece requires, and often prefers to bring in unsigned bands and new artists to provide vocals. In 2008, Johnston publicly expressed his frustration to Billboard Magazine at the inability of WWE to secure better promotional deals with artists due to a lack of understanding of the WWE product. He said, "One of my frustrations is getting the word out about just how much music is used in our product. The labels will stumble over themselves to get on MTV, but no one's watching MTV". Conversely, WWE and Johnston have been responsible for helping to fuel a surge in sales for associated acts such as Fuel, Shinedown and Motorhead through their use in WWE productions.
Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking U.S. album sales in 1991, Johnston has released seventeen WWE albums that have sold a combined 5.9 million units. Most have appeared in the Billboard 200, with many achieving gold and even platinum certification status. The top seller overall is WWF The Music, Vol. 3, released in 1998, and which went Platinum. The album sold a total 1.2 million units in the United States alone.
Johnston appears on the videotape Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 to introduce the video for Girls in Cars. He orchestrated the live band at the WWF Slammy Awards ceremonies, and traveled across the U.S. in 1995 as part of the "Raw Band". He also appeared on camera at WrestleMania XIV and the 1998 SummerSlam playing the DX theme with the Chris Warren Band. Johnston also had a brief clip in the film Beyond the Mat discussing his reasoning behind Vader's theme music. Johnston also appears on the bonus DVD for WWE Originals the 2004 album by the same name. The DVD features a 30 minute behind-the-scenes documentary on Johnston, offering insights into the composing, producing and directing of the album. There are also some humorous interactions of Johnston with Jonathan Coachman and Steve Austin. Johnston also appears on The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior discussing the Ultimate Warrior's theme song, and how it was able to be truly representative of the character. Johnston also appeared on the WrestleMania XV DVD extras, commenting on WWE's music, and how music is crucial in World Wrestling Entertainment. He also appeared on an episode of Total Divas.
WWE Signature Sounds
In March 2014, WWE released a 60 minute DVD documentary about Johnston entitled Signature Sounds: The Music of WWE, following him as he crafts an entrance theme, and revisits some of the stories of his most famous compositions.
Johnston composed the music for Legendary, Knucklehead, and The Chaperone, all of which were produced by WWE Studios. He also wrote the score for No Holds Barred and contributed the track, "Vader (aka Mastadon)" to the documentary, Beyond the Mat.
BMI Film and TV Awards
|2002||Won||BMI Cable Award||WWE Raw |
|2003||Won||BMI Cable Award||WWE Raw |
|2004||Won||BMI Cable Award||WWE Raw |
|2008||Won||BMI Cable Award||WWE Raw |
|2013||Won||BMI :) Cable Award||WWE Raw |
- Sound for the WWE-Creating the Sound for the WWE. Mixonline.com (2004-04-01). Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
- Billboard – Google Books. Books.google.com (2008-06-21). Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
- High, Kamau. (2008-06-15) Music a key element in WWE brand profile. Reuters. Retrieved on August 21, 2011.
- Awards at IMDb
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