Born in rural Indiana, Jay Jesse Johnson started playing guitar at the age of 10 and grew up listening to the sounds of blues, country and rock & roll. As a teenager, Johnson began paving his own way into the music world and was soon performing at local dances, events and nightclubs around the Midwest.
When he was 18, Johnson moved to the East coast and started gigging in the New York City / New England bar scene with regional bands, Sass and Cryer. He was soon recording and performing with some of the best in the industry. He landed the gig as the guitarist for the band, ArcAngel (CBS/Portrait Records) and appeared on MTV in 1983 with the band’s hit single, “Tragedy”.
Johnson went on to be the guitarist and songwriter for the band Deadringer (Grudge/BMG records), which included Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, Neal Smith and Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper as well as Joe Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult and vocalist, Charlie Huhn (Ted Nugent, Gary Moore, Foghat).
Along with the many recordings that Jay Jesse Johnson has appeared on, his 1st solo album “Strange Imagination”, released in 2004, set the stage for his back to the roots, blues/rock ascent. It was followed by “I’ve Got An Axe To Grind” released in 2007 that featured Charlie Huhn (Foghat/Victory), BJ Zampa (Dokken, House of Lords) and Matt Zeiner (Dickey Betts). In 2009, his third solo album, “Play That Damn Guitar” was released on Grooveyard Records. It was featured in Classic Rock Magazine’s CD “Blues Breakers” (The Hottest In New Blues Rock”). Johnson was signed to Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau International in 2012, with the release of “Run With The Wolf” and in 2013, Johnson was featured on The Blues Magazine’s “Cream Of Contemporary Blues” cover CD.
In Sept. 2015, Johnson was featured with Robert Cray, Canned Heat and Joe Bonamassa in The Blues Magazine’s cover CD, “The Next Generation Of Blues Superstars,” It included Johnson’s fiery,”Ghosts In Texas”, from his 5th solo album, “Set The Blues On Fire”.
Jay Jesse Johnson has shared the stage with guitar greats, Johnny Winter, Robin Trower, Walter Trout, Rick Derringer, Pat Travers as well as super groups, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Foghat and Jefferson Starship to name a few. He currently tours with his band, “The Jay Jesse Johnson Band”, A musical powerhouse that features Reed Bogart-Bass, Jeff “Smokey” Donaldson-Drums and Lee Evans on Hammond B3.