Samuel Johnson

Biography by

I really don't want this to be sappy or self-important, so I'll just outline a few things that lead to my involvement in music. Stop me if I get boring. Childhood: Dad would play jazz and classical vinyl…
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Artist Biography by

I really don't want this to be sappy or self-important, so I'll just outline a few things that lead to my involvement in music. Stop me if I get boring.


Dad would play jazz and classical vinyl on the stereo; mom played classical. Music was better than candy in my home. Consequently, we never had candy. Piano lessons started at age 7. Enjoyed the music. Didn't practice.

Teenage Years:

Piano lessons ended (couldn't afford them). Worked on a scout camp staff where I learned to sing four part harmonies by ear. Despite my parent's objections, I was listening to heavy metal, until … I decided the music was trash and swore off anything with drums (except jazz). Discovered Bach, organ music, and English folk music (sea shanties, etc.). Played in junior high and high school bands. Lifted my voice in high school choir. Started tinkering at the piano again on my own, mostly improvising, and arranging vocal pieces. Highly experimental stuff. Discovered the Byrds (i.e. decided that there was good rock and pop out there).

Adult years:

Good fortune threw me in with a guitar player/songwriter at college. Served a mission for the LDS Church, where I decided to study music. Took the hit to my potential pocketbook and chose music as a major at college. Located my former mentor, and we wrote tunes together and formed several bands.


Several unnamed tries that never got off the ground.

1. The Failures: mostly folk music, with some pop sensibilities. The band died from lack of commitment, knowledge amongst the member (Jeff quit, Eric got married - you know the tune).

2. The Hoi Polloi (not House of Hoi Polloi): The Cure, Morissey, Ocean Blue-style alternative. Incredibly inventive band that was walking on eggshells nearly from the beginning. After our first gig (highly successful), things blew up at practice. Words were exchanged, instruments were thrown, players walked out. GAME OVER. Please insert another $0.25. So I did…

3. QUIVERSTICK: Progressive moderate rock with folk and latin flavors. The band's now operating, though I burned three years trying to get it formed and workable. We're gigging occasionally.

3½. Catch 22: Folk rock (Counting Crows, Wallflowers-style stuff). I played in this band while I was trying to get QUIVERSTICK going.

Very Brief History of Writing:

Pen this is Samuel; Samuel, pen.

OK. While it's true that my writing background isn't extensive or impressive (mostly a hobby), it is a little better than that.

Basically, writing short fiction (fantasy and sci-fi - hey, I was a teenage male. Still like the stuff) kept me sane during long hours at junior high and high school. One of these days there will be an Emily Dickinsonesque discovery of my notebooks. Or not.

Other things that have challenged, sharpened my writing: songwriting, reading (love Dostoevsky), college writing courses (usually did well), independent study (I'm into parentheses - can you tell?), and journal (diary) writing.

One last thing: I write for a volunteer music organization, the Wasatch Audio Reserve. We put out a newsletter once a month. Which reminds me. I've written for various newsletters before.

Done. ~ Samuel Johnson

Desert Island List

1. La Messe pour Orgue - Nicholas de Grigny (perf. André Isoir)

2. Diesel and Dust - Midnight Oil

3. The Notorious Byrd Brothers - The Byrds

4. Lyrische Stücke - Edvard Grieg (perf. Emil Gilels)

5. Kind of Blue - Miles Davis

6. Fantasia in C minor - J. S. Bach (perf. ? - still looking)

7. Symphony #1 - Gustave Mahler (perf. ?)

8. Les Ballades - Frédéric Chopin (perf. ?)

9. Bringing It All Back Home - Bob Dylan

10. Ein deutsches Requiem - Johannes Brahms (perf. ?)

11. A Hard Day's Night - The Beatles

12. From the Original Master Tapes- Buddy Holly

13. The Joshua Tree - U2

14. I Love the Life I Live - Mose Allison

15. Electric Ladyland - Jimi Hendrix

16. Pontiac - Lyle Lovett

17. Nada Brahma - Sheila Chandra

18. Blue Train - John Coltrane

19. Simple Gifts - Christopher Parkening

20. Moving Pictures - Rush

I had to limit myself to 20 recordings, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention alternates:

Who's Next - The Who

CSN (Box) - Crosby, Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young

Samedi soir sur la terre - Francis Cabrel

The Very Best of Wilson Pickett

Steady On - Shawn Colvin