Bob Johnston, who produced landmark albums for such stars as Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, died Friday, Aug. 14, at a Nashville hospice facility at age 83. Bob produced the albums At San Quentin and At Folsom Prison for Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? for Willie Nelson, among many others.
Bob was known as a creative, forward-thinking producer. In 1967, while on staff at Columbia Records in Nashville, he convinced the label to move forward with Johnny Cash’s live album project from Folsom Prison in California, despite the label’s early objections. He was also instrumental in bringing Bob Dylan to Nashville to record with the city’s famed session musicians known as the Nashville Cats. Their collaborations resulted in the acclaimed albums Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline, inspiring other artists to also come to Nashville to record. Bob’s work is featured at the current exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City.
Bob became an independent producer and helmed projects like Joe Ely’s Down on the Drag and the 1992 album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? for Willie Nelson, recorded while Willie was undergoing financial difficulties because of owed back taxes. Bob was recently admitted to a Nashville hospice facility, where he died peacefully, according to a close friend.
NASH Country Weekly sends our condolences to Bob’s family and longtime friends.