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Lang performing in Indianapolis, 2011
|Born||January 29, 1981|
|Origin||Fargo, North Dakota, United States|
|Genres||Blues, gospel, rock|
|Labels||A&M, Concord international, Interscope|
Jonny Lang (born Jon Gordon Langseth, Jr., January 29, 1981) is an American blues, gospel, and rock singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. He has five albums that charted on the top 50 of the Billboard 200 chart and has won a Grammy Award for Turn Around.
Jonny Lang is of Norwegian descent and was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He started playing the guitar at the age of 12. He got his start playing guitar for his friends on the Vallagers' porch at their lake place. He would play everything from modern hits to the classics, even performing an astounding rendition of Jimi Hendrix's take on the National Anthem. Soon after his father took him to see the Bad Medicine Blues Band, one of the few blues bands in Fargo, Lang started taking guitar lessons from Ted Larsen, the band's guitar player. Several months after Lang began, he joined the band, which was then renamed Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang.
Growing up on his father's farm near Casselton, N.D., Lang absorbed his parents' record collection, stocked with Motown, Otis Redding and Steely Dan. He was 12 when his dad brought him to a gig by the Bad Medicine Blues Band, and 13 when his dad gave him his first guitar. Eventually, the band's guitarist gave Lang lessons, and he joined as frontman. Two years later A&M Records, then home of Janet Jackson and Soundgarden, spotted him at a showcase in Minneapolis, and he was suddenly the latest in a trend of shockingly young blues-guitar prodigies that included Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Derek Trucks.
At 15, Jonny Lang made a blues album, 1997's "Lie to Me," which went platinum and hit No. 1 on Billboard's New Artist chart. At 17 he made another, "Wander This World," which earned a Grammy nomination. Today, at age 32, he can't listen to them. "It's like torture," he says. "It's like going back and looking at your high school yearbook or something. But no, I wouldn't change anything. It's all a part of where you are presently as a person."
The band moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and independently released the album Smokin' when Lang was 14. He was signed to A&M Records in 1996. He released the critically acclaimed multi-platinum Lie to Me on January 28, 1997. The next album, Wander this World, was released on October 20, 1998, and earned a Grammy nomination. This was followed by the more soulful Long Time Coming on October 14, 2003. Lang also made a cover of Edgar Winter's "Dying to Live". Lang's 2006 album, the gospel-influenced Turn Around, won him his first Grammy Award. In his earliest performing years, Lang always performed barefoot on stage, because "it feels good" and once in tribute to Luther Allison, a friend who had recently died. He has since given up that practice, after several near-accidents and electric shocks.
In more than ten years on the road, Lang has toured with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Blues Traveler, Jeff Beck and Sting. In 1999, he was invited to play for a White House audience that included President and Mrs. Clinton. Earlier that year he was selected by the newly elected Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to perform at his Inaugural Ball. Lang also makes a cameo appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000 as a janitor. In 2004, Eric Clapton asked Lang to play at the Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise money for the Crossroads Centre Antigua.
Lang also appears regularly as a part of the Experience Hendrix Tour along with many other well-known guitarists to pay tribute to the deceased guitar legend.
Jonny Lang, since the beginning with The Big Bang, has slung a 1972 Fender Thinline Telecaster made by the Fender Custom Shop, as well as a 1958 reissue custom shop Gibson Les Paul in more recent years as his sound and style have grown and flourished. His original Custom Shop Tele - with a black flamed maple top, flamed maple neck, pearl signature inlay and his trademark pinup girl character on the aft body was stolen some years ago. He has added a couple more custom thinline teles-all carrying the basic aesthetic motif, but with varying colors from a burnt orange/amber to a deep violet throughout the years since. The 1972 Fender Thinline Telecaster is a semi-hollow spruce body, maple top, and a maple neck and fretboard. He has not, however, sported the pearl "Jonny Lang" signature inlay since his original custom tele, but still stays true to his WWII-style pinup girl aftbody artwork. Jonny's Telecasters have three Bill Lawrence Pickups (500L Neck, 500XL Bridge) with a 5-way pickup switch and a coil-tap for accessing a single-coil tone. On his pedalboard for his 2014 tour were the Analog Man King of Tone, a Whirlwind The Bomb boost, a Visual Sound V2 Route 808, a Fulltone Ultimate Octave, a JAM Pedals Tube Dreamer, and a Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah. On this tour he played his Custom Shop Tele and the 1958 reissue Custom Shop Gibson Les Paul through a pair of modified Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb amps. Jonny also used an arbiter Fuzz Face and an Electro Harmonix POG for The Experience Hendrix tour. Lang has also used Audiotech Guitar Products ABC Selector CCM on his 2005 acoustic tour.
The Fender Telecaster featured on the cover of Lie to Me is in fact not a Telecaster at all, but an original Fender Esquire. Upon filming the music video for the title track "Lie to Me" which took place in a San Francisco music store, the owner of the store suggested Lang play the Esquire in the video. Lang fell in love with the guitar and it was purchased and given to him as a gift. He continues to use it, but not as often as his Custom Shop Telecaster and Signature Series Les Paul.
From 1993 to 1996, Lang's backing band was The Big Bang. This group consisted of three founding members of the Bad Medicine Blues Band: Ted "Lightnin' Boy" Larsen on guitar, his brother Michael Rey Larsen on drums, and Jeff Hayenga on bass. Keyboardist Bruce McCabe joined The Big Bang in 1995 after Lang and this young band from Fargo impressed him with their set opening for McCabe's band at the time, The Hoopsnakes.
From 1996 to 2004, Lang's backing band included Paul Diethelm on guitar, Bruce McCabe on keyboards, Doug Nelson on bass and Billy Thommes on drums. Also appearing on keyboards during 2003 and 2004 was Donnie La Marca, filling in for McCabe during his break from touring. Nelson was killed in a traffic accident in 2000 and was replaced by Billy Franze. Franze was in turn replaced by Jim Anton in 2003. Saxophone player David Eiland was added in 2000, providing Lang with a foil for extended instrumental jams. In 2005, Lang replaced the entire lineup, except for Anton, and embarked on an acoustic tour. He performed with Wendy Alane Wright at the 2000 pre-Grammy party. Guitarist Reeve Carney was the band's opening act for several shows in 2005, as well as for the 2006 and 2007 tours.
The current band line up includes Barry Alexander from Minneapolis on drums, James Anton from Minneapolis on bass, Akil Thompson from Nashville on rhythm guitar, Dwan Hill from Nashville on keys, Missi Hale from Los Angeles on background vocals.
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On September 17, 2013, Lang released his first studio album in seven years, Fight for My Soul.
Lang married former Kids Incorporated cast member Haylie Johnson on June 8, 2001. Lang and his wife share the same birthday, although she is one year older. They live in Los Angeles, California. Lang and Johnson have four children: fraternal twins son Raimy Lee and daughter Saylor Monroe; daughter Rennix Belle and daughter Lilou Jaymes.
Lang has two older sisters, Stephanie and Heidi Jo. He also has one younger sister, Jessica ("Jesse"), who was a contestant on season 8 of American Idol. Actress Ashley Johnson (Growing Pains, What Women Want) is Lang's sister-in-law.
Conversion to Christianity
After a period of alcoholism and drug abuse, Jonny Lang became a Christian in 2000, which led him to stop substance abuse. In an interview with Sara Groves on Christianity Today, Lang gave details about his conversion, assuring he had a supernatural experience with the Holy Ghost. In his own words, he has said that he formerly "hated Christianity" and "despised the things of God", but now he wants to share with others about Jesus' love.
The songs "Only a Man" and "Thankful" from his album Turn Around, are about his belief in God. He has also co-written a couple of songs with Christian-music artist Steven Curtis Chapman, notably "My Love Remains".
- 1995 Smokin' (Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang)
- 1997 Lie to Me, No. 44 (Billboard 200)
- 1998 Wander This World, No. 28 (Billboard 200)
- 2003 Long Time Coming, No. 17 (Billboard 200)
- 2006 Turn Around, No. 35 (US Billboard 200), No. 1 (Billboard Christian Album)
- 2009 Live at the Ryman, No. 2 (Billboard Blues Album)
- 2013 Fight for My Soul, No. 50 (Billboard 200), No. 1 (Billboard Blues Album), No. 2 (Billboard Christian Album)
- 1997 A Very Special Christmas 3 album by various artists, performed on track "Santa Claus Is Back in Town"
- 1998 Blues Brothers 2000 original soundtrack by various artists, performed on track "634–5789"
- 1998 Heavy Love album by Buddy Guy, performed on track "Midnight Train"
- 1999 Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions album by Shannon Curfman, performed on multiple tracks and co-wrote "Love Me Like That"
- 1999 For Love of the Game original soundtrack, performed on track "Paint It Black"
- 2000 It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues original cast recording, performed on tracks "Someone Else is Steppin' In" and "The Thrill is Gone"
- 2000 This Time Around album by Hanson, performed on tracks "You Never Know," "This Time Around" and "Hand In Hand"
- 2000 Milk Cow Blues album by Willie Nelson, performed on tracks "Rainy Day Blues" and "Ain't Nobody's Business"
- 2001 Been a Long Time album by Double Trouble, performed on track "Ground Hog Day" with Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar
- 2001 Ash Wednesday Blues album by Anders Osborne, performed on tracks "Snake Bit Again", "Soul Livin'", "Me & Lola", "Aim Way High", and "Improvise"
- 2004 All Things New album by Steven Curtis Chapman, performed on track "Only Getting Started"
- 2004 Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival, performed on track "Give Me Up Again"
- 2005 Possibilities album by Herbie Hancock, performed on track "When Love Comes to Town" with Joss Stone
- 2007 A Deeper Level album by Israel Houghton, performed on track "You Are Not Forgotten"
- 2009 Oh Happy Day album by various artists, performed on track "I Believe" with the Fisk Jubilee Singers Lang performed the song live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno April 16, 2009.
- 2009 Lines, Vines and Trying Times album by Jonas Brothers, performed on track "Hey Baby"
- 2010 Up Close album by Eric Johnson, performed on track "Austin"
- 2010 What We Want, What We Get album by Dave Barnes, performed on track "What I Need"
- 2010 6 String Theory album by Lee Ritenour, performed on track "Why I Sing The Blues" with B.B. King and Vince Gill
- 2010 Memphis Blues album by Cyndi Lauper, performed on tracks "How Blue Can You Get?" and "Crossroads"
- 2010 Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time album by Santana, performed on track "I Ain't Superstitious"
- 2010 Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010, album by various artists, performed on tracks "Five Long Years" and "Miss You" with Buddy Guy and Ronnie Wood
- 2011 ZZ Top: A Tribute from Friends, album by various artists, performed on track "Sharp Dressed Man" as the M.O.B. with Mick Fleetwood, Steven Tyler and John McVie
- 2012 Featuring Mato Nanji, album by Indigenous, performed on track "Free Yourself, Free Your Mind"
- 2012 Show Me Love, album by V Reyes, performed on track "Man Enough (feat. Tim & Jonny Lang)"
Filmography and television appearances
- 1997 Disney Channel's In Concert
- 1998 Blues Brothers 2000
- 1998 The Drew Carey Show episode "In Ramada Da Vida" (cameo)
- 2004 Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004
- 2008 Live at Montreaux 1999 DVD
- 2010 Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010
- "Rig Rundown: Jonny Lang". PremierGuitar.com. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
- "Zildjian Artists|Barry Alexander II Artist Page". Zildjian.com. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
- Wiederhorn, Jon. "Jonny Lang Recalls Debilitating Demons on 'Fight For My Soul'". musicyahoo.com. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
- "Jonny Lang, Guitartist Johnny Lang, Blues guitarist Johnny Lang, Christian Johnny Lang". Beliefnet.com. 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- "Jonny Lang: From the Blues Brothers to Christian brother - Jonny Lang". Crossrhythms.co.uk. 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- Sara Groves (2006-09-25). "'I Hated Christianity' - Sara Groves". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- "Turning It Around | An Exclusive Interview With Jonny Lang". NewReleaseTuesday.com. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
-  Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters. March 27, 2009.
- "NBC Video Rewind". NBC. April 16, 2009.
- Joe Bosso. "Ask MusicRadar: submit your questions for Eric Johnson | Guitar News". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- "The Drew Carey Show - Episode Guide". TV.com. Retrieved 2014-02-22.