I can’t remember how I came across this article, but I recently found a classic article about Eric Johnson from 1986. The article was written around the time of the release of Johnson’s album Tones. Several of Johnson’s contemporaries are quoted in the article, including Steve Morse, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had this to say about Johnson:
“Few people understand that when the guy was 15, he was playing Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery stuff, and he was doing it right–that’s pretty cool! If the record that he made years ago, The Seven Worlds, had come out at the time it was ready, instead of being held back for the reason of dollars and pennies–someone besides Eric was holding out for too much money for a deal–he would have been as big as Jeff Beck. He would have been very much in the public eye for modern jazz, rock, and fusion. The guy deserves a lot more recognition than he’s ever gotten. Eric is an honest human being, and he cares about everything. Just listen to him and learn.”
I didn’t realize that Johnson’s first album was stalled for so long by management issues. However, it’s good to know that after those early struggles, Johnson finally started to get the recognition he deserved. Of course, now he’s very well known as one of the greatest guitarists playing today, but it’s interesting to read about him at a time when he wasn’t nearly as well known.