Jack Johnson is an American folk rock singer-songwriter, surfer and musician known for his work in the soft rock and acoustic genres. In 2001, he achieved commercial success after the release of his debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. He has since released four more albums, a number of EPs and surfing movies/soundtracks. He is also known for organizing an annual event, the Kōkua Festival. Notable songs from Johnson's repertoire include "Upside Down"; "Flake"; "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing"; "If I Had Eyes"; "You and Your Heart"; "Taylor"; "Banana Pancakes" and the widely-popular fan favorite, "Better Together".
Jack Johnson was born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The son of well-known surfer Jeff Johnson, he took an interest in the sport. He began to learn how to surf at the age of 5. At 17, he became the youngest invitee to make the surfing finals at the Pipeline Masters on Oahu's north shore. One week later, however, his stint as a professional surfer ended when he suffered a surfing accident at the Pipeline that put more than 150 stitches in his forehead and removed a few of his teeth.
Jack Johnson graduated from Kahuku High School on the North Shore of Oahu. He would later attend the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduate with a degree in film. While Johnson learned the guitar at the age of 14 and started songwriting at the age of 16 , his passion for music grew when he played rhythm guitar for the band Soil (not to be confused with the heavy metal band of the same name) in college. Johnson credits his songwriting influences as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, Otis Redding, G. Love and Special Sauce, Ben Harper, Sublime, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Neil Young, and A Tribe Called Quest.
Jack Johnson's big break was writing and contributing vocals for the song "Rodeo Clowns" which was featured on G. Love's 1999 album 'Philadelphonic'. The song would later become the first single off the album.
In addition to his later success as a musician, Johnson is also an accomplished filmmaker. Johnson directed the surf films Thicker Than Water (2000) and The September Sessions (2002), in which he also starred. Both movie soundtracks were also products of Johnson. Johnson also starred in the 2004 surf film A Brokedown Melody.
Johnson released a four track demo that caught the attention of Ben Harper's producer, J. P. Plunier, who worked with Johnson on his debut album Brushfire Fairytales in early 2001 with Harper and his Weissenborn lap steel guitar making a guest appearance. Brushfire Fairytales was released on February 1, 2001.
Johnson went back into the studio with Adam Topol (drums, percussion) and Merlo Podlewski (bass), who played on Brushfire Fairytales, and Mario Caldato Jr on production duties, to record his second full-length album On and On. It was the first album to be recorded at Johnson's Mango Tree Studio in Johnson's home town of North Shore, Oahu, and the first to be released through The Moonshine Conspiracy Records. On and On was released on May 6, 2003.
In October 2004, Johnson returned to the Mango Tree Studio with Topol and Podlewski along with Zach Gill (of Animal Liberation Orchestra) playing accordion, melodica and piano, to record his follow-up to 2003's On and On. In Between Dreams was released on March 1, 2005.
Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George is a soundtrack album by Johnson, released on February 7, 2006. The album also features Adam Topol, Ben Harper, G. Love, Kawika Kahiapo, Matt Costa, Merlo Podlewski and Zach Gill. It was the first soundtrack to make it to number 1 since the Bad Boys II soundtrack in August 2003 and was the first soundtrack for an animated film to top the Billboard 200 since the Pocahontas soundtrack in July 1995.
Johnson enlisted J.P. Plunier to produce his fourth full-length studio album, Sleep Through the Static. It was recorded using 100% solar energy at the Solar-Powered Plastic Plant studio in Los Angeles. The album featured Gill (keys), Podlewski (bass) and Topol (drums, percussion). Sleep Through the Static was released on February 1, 2008 and was followed by a world tour.
A live album and DVD of Johnson's 2008 world tour, entitled En Concert, was released on October 27, 2009. The DVD was directed by Emmett Malloy.
Johnson also participated, with Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder and others, in the documentary Kokua 2008: 5 Years of Change (2009), produced by Brushfire and Three Foot Giant Productions and shown on Sundance Channel.
Johnson produced Animal Liberation Orchestra's fifth studio album, Man of the World, which was released February 9, 2010. The album also features vocals from Johnson.
On 1 February 2010, Johnson's official website announced that his fifth studio album, To the Sea, was in the recording process at the Mango Tree Studio, with a planned worldwide release during the first week of June 2010. The website also announced an accompanying European, Australian and New Zealand tour to coincide with the album's release on midnight 31 May.
The first single from his To the Sea album is "You and Your Heart", released on April 6, 2010.
While speaking with New Zealand radio station ZM, Johnson said he is constantly aiming to build relationships with local pro-environment, non-profit groups. "We try to raise money for a lot of these groups who are doing positive things in the community. We try to focus mostly on environmental education, just trying to get kids out into nature, supporting local farms and things like that."
Jack Johnson is currently mixing his second live-album at the Solar Powered Plastic Plant (Los Angeles, CA).
2010 world tour
Jack Johnson embarked on a world tour in 2010 with Paula Fuga, a Hawaiian vocalist, playing at a range of venues across the world including Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA and Japan. One hundred percent of the tour's profit has been donated to charity.
2012 Hawaiian Islands tour
On February 22, 2012, Jack with John Cruz and Paula Fuga announced a 7-show acoustic tour of the Hawaiian Islands during April with one show (19) on Kauai at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center, Lihue, two shows (21 & 22) on Oahu at Hawaii Theater, Honolulu, two shows (25 & 26) on Maui at Castle Theater, Kahului, and two shows (28 & 29) on The Big Island at Kahilu Theater, Waimea.
On July 22, 2000, Johnson married his college sweetheart Kim. They have three children, two boys and a girl. Johnson lives on the North Shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. In an interview with Johnson, Ann Donahue from Billboard described Johnson's family life by saying "There is often trouble in balancing the life of an artist, environmentalist, and family man, but Johnson seems to have the niche for such a challenge. This time around, he's found a pace that agrees with him...bringing his family along so he can spend mornings with them sightseeing." Both Johnson and his wife refuse to talk about or release any intimate information concerning their kids. "If we could leave my kids' names out of the article, that'd be great," says Johnson in an article interview with Men's Journal.
Johnson and his wife created the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation after his third album to benefit the children of Hawaii and promote environment awareness. Johnson and his family work hard every year at festivals and concerts alike, to raise money for causes they feel are most important. Johnson recorded a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" for the 2007 benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which was also included on the 2009 benefit album Rhythms del Mundo Classics. In talking about Johnson and his career choices, Rolling Stone wrote: "It is a typically generous move from Johnson, who has used his multi-platinum success to support causes he cares about." Although the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation is a non-profit organization that "focuses on environmental, arts and music education," it has raised more than $750,000 from 2009 to 2010 to give away. Johnson was in Osaka, Japan on his To The Sea 2010 World Tour at the time of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. He was in a hotel with his family when it struck. After having to postpone the rest of his tour, he donated $50,000 to GlobalGiving's Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.
Johnson's band is composed of:
Jack Johnson - Vocals, guitar,
Adam Topol - Drums, percussion,
Merlo Podlewski - Bass,
Zach Gill - Piano, percussion, background vocals