Jack Johnson

Birth name: Jack Johnson

Born: May 18, 1945, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.

Years active: 1999-

Official site: www.jackjohnsonmusic.com

Jack Johnson is a singer/songwriter/surfer/environmentalist and a father of 3. His main genre is acoustic soft rock, and he plays it in a really nice, mellow sort of way. His music is unique in that he mixes a wide variety of influences in a way that just makes it click with the masses. People love his music since it's soothing, laid-back, and just generally fun to listen to.

He is an exceptional musician and songwriter and has helped pioneer a vastly successful genre starting in the 2000s.

He is one of very few artists who sounds better live than on a recording. His performance is always flawless, and he plays everything from memory, without any sheet music.

Playing style

Jack Johnson is a new breed of singer/guitarist, combining acoustic folk and alternative rock with hints of pop, rock, blues, hip-hop, and reggae. His music is vocal-centric, adding the acoustic guitar and drums to create a unique groove.

He draws influence from these musicians: Bob Marley, Ben Harper, Neil Young, The Beatles, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, and A Tribe Called Quest. If you are familiar with these artists, you'll recognize elements of their style in Jack's music. Even though he is a great guitarist, he doesn't flash by playing huge solos (like his peer, John Mayer for example). His influence and style are conveyed through the general mood his music creates.

Technically speaking, because it's so laid back, his guitar playing looks simple, but it's not that easy to replicate. Jack plays lots of barre chords, adding a percussive feel with a lot of mutes, slaps, and percussive strums thrown in. Rhythm is very important, his music just flows softly and evenly. Also, he often plays a base-mute-strum combo during his chord progressions.

These are the main elements of his groove.

Life story

Jack Johnson was born in Hawaii and is the son of famous surfer Jeff Johnson. Jack learned to surf at the age of 5 and planned on following in his father's footsteps.

While growing up, the Johnson family lived a very outdoorsy life, camping, canoeing, and surfing as much as possible. At the age of 17, Jack became the youngest surfer to reach the finals of the Pipeline Masters surfing tournament in Maui. Jack's surfing career was cut short due to a huge surfing accident, where he hit a coral reef and was badly hurt. He stopped competitive surfing after the incident.

Jack learned to play the guitar at the age of 14, but didn’t get serious about it until later, when he started attending the University of California. He met his future wife here as well and started writing music initially to impress her. He graduated with a degree in film.

Jack's big break came in 1999 when he met G Love while surfing. Jack wrote the song Rodeo Clown for their album Philadelphonic, and sang in the song as well. The song became the most famous single from the album.

Jack released his first album in 2001, called Brushfire Fairytales. His producer was J.P. Plunier, who received Jack's demo tape from Ben Harper. Jack toured for 2 years as the opening act for Ben Harper, during which time his album became very popular, reaching Platinum certification.

He has released several very successful albums since then, and also established his own label, Brushfire Records.

Family life

Jack married his University sweetheart, Kim, in the year 2000. They have 2 boys and a girl.


Jack uses his success to support causes he cares about. He is a devoted environmentalist and has founded 2 charities with his wife:

He and his wife also organized the Kokua Festival several times already, a fund-raising Earth Day concert that featured a number of popular performers.


The guitars Jack plays on are:


Jack Johnson uses Fender amps:

  • 1965 Fender Twin Reverb amplifying the acoustic guitar
  • 1965 Fender Deluxe for the electric guitar


  • D’Addario EJ-16 strings (acoustic)
  • D’Addario EXL115 strings (electric)

Full concert 2008, Kokua Festival

Outtakes with Ben Stiller from the making of the music video for Taylor

Interview with Jack Johnson