Bob Dylan Producer Bob Johnston Dies
Bob Johnston, who produced some of Bob Dylan's best-loved albums, has died at 83 years old. He had been hospitalized in a Nashville-based memory facility, and then moved into hospice over the past week.
Johnston is perhaps best known to classic-rock fans for helming Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, in a career that also included albums with Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson, Carl Perkins and Simon and Garfunkel. He also produced John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning with Bob Dylan.
"My job wasn’t to be a hero and to tell Paul Simon or Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson what the f– to do!” Bob Johnston once said. “I thought if you want to be a hero or if you want to take credit, get some other people to work with. Don’t work with these people. I wasn’t like some other people who were looking to be the next Phil Spector. I had three sons; all I cared about was seeing that it was gonna be a better world. And I think these people made a better world for us.”
Bob Johnston, born in 1932 in Hillsboro, Texas, came from a songwriting family. His mother had composed songs for Asleep at the Wheel and Gene Autry. His grandmother co-wrote "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." Johnston worked for Columbia Records first in New York, and later in Nashville, before becoming an independent producer. Along the way, he collaborated with Simon and Garfunkel on both Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Dylan memorably asked Johnston "Is it rolling, Bob?" at the beginning of the song "To Be Alone with You" on Nashville Skyline.
Johnston died on Friday (Aug. 14). “He was on morphine to help any pain he was experiencing," a friend of Johnston's told the Austin Chronicle. "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.”
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