Jack Johnson

Author: Janet



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Before Jack Johnson perfected his rockstar ways, he was a champion surfer on the professional route. The sport was second nature to the young Hawaiian native, who began chasing waves as a toddler and, by the age of 17, had become an outstanding athlete on the Pipeline. However, Johnson was also testing other creative outlets — specifically film and music — and a serious surfing accident convinced him to devote more time to those landlocked hobbies.

It was during his college years in America that Johnson began writing the relaxed, acoustic-based songs that would later turn him into a chart-topping star. While studying film at the University of California at Santa Barbara, he also paired up with old friends Chris Malloy and Emmett Malloy to produced a surf cinema documentary entitled Thicker Than Water, which spotlighted Johnson as a talented cinematographer as well as a burgeoning singer/songwriter. His peers from the surf circuit praised his work, and Thicker Than Water received props in Surfer magazine for Video of the Year during 2000. The follow-up surf flick The September Sessions also earned the Adobe Highlight Award at the ESPN Film Festival that same year.

Still, Johnson steered away from a blossoming pro sports career and stuck with music, a move that would soon earn him additional honors. G. Love & Special Sauce quickly took notice of Johnson’s lazy blues stylings, which also molded folk and hip-hop for a modern rock twist. One of Johnson’s songs, “Rodeo Clowns”, found its way onto G. Love’s Philadelphonic in 1999, with Johnson contributing vocals and guitar licks to the track. Johnson’s four-track demo then caught the ears of Ben Harper’s right-hand man, J.P. Plunier, who opted to lend his production skills to Johnson’s sultry studio debut. Brushfire Fairytales appeared in early 2001 and featured a cameo by Ben Harper, thus sparking a friendship between the two musicians.

Two co-headlining tours followed throughout the spring and summer of 2002, and Johnson’s sophomore effort, On and On, appeared in May 2003. Stateside dates with Ben Harper helped Johnson expand his audience, and On and On eventually climbed to number 3 on the Billboard charts. A third album, In Between Dreams arrived in March 2005 and charted even higher, eventually going on to sell over two million copies. Johnson earned two Brit Awards for the album: International Male Solo Artist and International Breakthrough Act. In February, he issued the soundtrack Curious George. Nielsen SoundScan sales topped at 163,000 copies in its first week of release, earning Johnson his first-ever number one album on Billboard’s Top 200 and Rock Albums charts. His sixth album, Sleep Through the Static, was released in February 2008. – MacKenzie Wilson

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