Even listeners who find everything to do with fusion stupid will have to admit this guitarist was smart taking on a far-out nickname that results in many of his credits reading Charles "Icarus" Johnson. As long as the "Icarus" part is in there, it is easy to tell him apart from many other performers with the same name, including the famous guitarist and singer from the gospel group the Sensational Nightingales. Of course, the music itself is a further dead giveaway, the expression chosen in order to hint at a state the aforementioned listeners might rather find themselves in than listening to any of this Johnson's efforts.
Fans of fusion, on the other hand, will point at Johnson's hands and describe the searing lead guitar passages they have created since his tenure with Stanley Clarke from the mid-'70s onward. In addition, he has shown his versatility by adapting to the many demands of a bandleader such as vocalist Al Jarreau and has also played the band game as a member of Pages, an ensemble featuring Jarreau as well as a host of Los Angeles session hotshots. "Automatic" is one of the compositions Johnson co-wrote while flipping through Pages. A single anecdote pinpoints this artist's stature in the music business: he has the clout to borrow an amp from pianist George Duke for a gig.