Bob Johnston a revered record producer who produced countless inspiring albums from artists including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 83 in a Nashville Hospice.
The Austin Chronicle reports that a friend of the producer said ‘For several days before, swinging, swaying, and waving around his hands, telling stories out loud, entertaining and consuming all those that saw and heard him. Once he was confined to a bed and connected to machines, the hospice only gave him a few days to live.’
‘He was on morphine to help any pain he was experiencing. Bob’s wife told me he pass[ed] away peacefully. The grand master waved his magical wand for the last time, then disappeared off into the night.’
Johnston came from a musical family, both his mother and grandmother were songwriters with his mother Diane Johnston composing for Gene Autry. After a short stretch in the Navy, Johnston began writing with his mother which kicked off his music career. He wrote for rockabilly star Mac Curtis and became a recording artist under the name Don Johnston.
Later he would collaborate with his wife Joy Byers, earning writing credits for multiple artists including Elvis Presley and Timi Yuro. However it was producing music where Johnston truly found his feet, cutting his teeth first at Kapp Records before moving on to Columbia where he was assigned to Bob Dylan. He produced some of the most respected and influential works released by Columbia from Simon & Garfunkel, Marty Robbins, Flatt and Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and The Byrds.