Musician Michael Johnson Has Died at 72


The musician was 72.
The musician was 72. Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Michael Johnson, the popular singer-songwriter and classical guitarist, has passed away. He was 72.

A note posted on his website confirmed his death and read simply:

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share the sad news of Michael’s passing Tuesday evening after a long illness.

Johnson died at his home in Minneapolis.

The talented musician was born in Alamosa, Colorado in 1944, but was raised in Denver. His love of music began when he was recovering from pneumonia at 13 alongside his older brother, Paul, who had been injured in a car crash around the same time, according to Rolling Stone. They both learned to play the guitar to keep busy and within a year had earned their first job playing at the local VFW hall.

Johnson enjoyed an eclectic career that included songwriter, stints with bands such as New Society, classical guitar studies in Spain and acting in off-Broadway shows.

Famed personal manager and close friend Phil Kaufman had this told Rolling Stone about Johnson: “He was not just a great guitar player but he had a great stage presence as well. He would do these little riffs that guitar players would kill for.”

Throughout his career, Johnson earned two Number One singles on the country charts, “Give Me Wings” and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder.” He also scored a handful of Top 40 pop hits, including the popular “Bluer Than Blue.” Over 30-plus years in the business, Johnson released a staggering 19 albums and 21 singles.

Musician Michael Johnson Has Died at 72