Born: Montgomery, AL
Country Steel Guitar, Dobro Bill Anderson, Kitty Wells
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Mike was born in Baltimore, MD but grew up in Montgomery, AL. He started playing steel guitar in his Dad’s band at age 15. In 1976, at age 19, he moved to Nashville to work with Mel Street. When Mel died in October of 1978, Mike went to work with Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely for the next 9 months. He then took a job with Bill Anderson in July of 1979 and would be affiliated with Bill for over 15 years. Shortly after The Nashville Network came to cable TV in 1983, Mike became The Music Director and The Steel Guitar Player for the show “You Can Be A Star”. During his 13 years with TNN, he served in the same capacity for 3 other shows; “Play It Again Nashville”, “Be A Star”, and “The Charlie Daniels Talent Roundup”. He also wrote and produced “theme songs” for several TNN shows including, “Fandango”, “Top Card”, “American Magazine” and “The Mesquite Rodeo”. During the years of touring with Bill Anderson and working with TNN, Mike had been playing steel guitar on a number of recording sessions. In September of 1996, he made the decision to try session work “full time”. In order to do this, he felt it was time to come off the road. Mike had recorded with artists Mel Street, Joe Stampley, and Christy Lane in earlier years. He also produced and played on 6 albums for Bill Anderson. The decision to pursue full time studio work proved to be a good move. The first year he recorded with Faith Hill and Brad Paisley. He has since played on records with artists such as; Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner, Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin, Steve Wariner, Big and Rich, Randy Owens, Jewel, Joe Nichols, Craig Morgan, BJ Thomas, John Conlee, Lee Greenwood, Jeff Bates, Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, Rodney Atkins, Trace Adkins, Jessica Simpson, Shedaisy, and many others. He played on the Daryle Singletary album “That’s Why I Sing This Way”, which included guests like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakum, and the very last recording of Johnny Paycheck. Brad Paisley’s “Part Two” album included a guest appearance by Buck Owens. Mike played steel on “The Louvin Brothers Tribute Album” entitled “Livin’ Lovin’ Losin” for Universal South Records. It includes such artists as Vince Gill, Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Rodney Crowell, Merle Haggard, James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Terri Clark, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Rhonda Vincent. Mike was the "ACM STEEL PLAYER OF THE YEAR" for 2006. He was nominated for the award in 2004, 2005 and 2006. On April 19, 2008, Mike was inducted into The Alabama Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
I was watching the Country Reunion on RFD television this week. Rhonda Vincent was asked to sing and she sang "Once A Day". She is a bluegrass singer from what I understand but she loves this song. She said before she sang that the steel guitar was her favorite instrument of all time. Mike Johnson did a fantastic job of playing on the song. When she was finished, Rhonda turned to Mike and said "I love that steel Mike". I just thought it was encouraging a singer from another field of music loves the steel and praised Mike Johnson for a super job. Mike just was smiling from ear to ear. If you have not seen the Country Reunion shows they are worth the time to watch.--Paul King
More info and videos: http://mikejohnsonproductions.com/